Topeka Westar Energy is seeking 1,000 customers to participate in a pilot project that utility officials said could provide savings on electric bills.
The voluntary program provides what are called Time of Use rates to encourage customers to shift their electric usage to off-peak periods when demand is lower.
“This gives an opportunity for customers who think they can do this, to get on board, maybe save some money in the process, and it helps us manage the total load on the system,” said Hal Jensen, director of customer service and programs at Westar.
In the summer, peak energy usage times during weekdays are from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Under the Time of Use pilot program, the cost for energy during that period would be approximately 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, while using energy during off-peak times would be approximately 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
In winter, the peak energy usage is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Under the Time of Use program, energy costs at that time would be nearly 8 cents per kilowatt hour while energy used during the off-peak period would cost nearly 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Jensen said a household that could shift discretionary usage, such as doing laundry, to off-peak periods would benefit from the program.
Westar officials said Lawrence customers are in a good position to take advantage of the program because they already have access to their personal, detailed energy usage information through Westar’s deployment of “smart” meters throughout the city.
To sign up for the Time of Use pilot program, call Westar’s customer service center at 1-855-StarOne (1-855-782-7663).
The program is a three-year pilot that is restricted to 1,000 people per year. Westar will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis.
David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, said the results of the pilot program should be interesting.
However, he added, “But ask yourself, who is going to sign up? People who are pretty motivated to start with and are not extremely dependent on mid-day power. I’m not sure the results will tell us anything on a broader scale,” Springe said.
He pointed to a program in Chicago that showed only a small percentage of participants changed their behavior.