WPU energy saving effort easing pinch in pocketbooksWORTHINGTON — In an effort to reduce costs for consumers, Worthington Public Utilities (WPU) has been working on implementing an energy saving program this past year.
WORTHINGTON — In an effort to reduce costs for consumers, Worthington Public Utilities (WPU) has been working on implementing an energy saving program this past year.
According to Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain, purchase power and transmission costs contribute to about 90 percent of the WPU budget. Recent years have brought an increase in wholesale power cost for utility companies.
“We’re at the mercy of our power suppliers,” Hain said.
Consequently, the increases in costs have resulted in higher prices for customers.
Instead of transferring the full burden of cost to customers, WPU has decided to begin load management, Hain explained.
By controlling electric loads on air conditioning units during peak periods, WPU will be able to reduce the costs of wholesale power and transmission that customers have to bear.
Hain said the process begins with the installation of a Demand Response Unit (DRU) mounted to the side of a house. A signal transmitted during the control period will disable the compressor unit during that time. The fan, however, will continue to run and provide air circulation.
“The key is to reduce peak demand and virtually make it unnoticeable to the customer,” Hain said.
A common misunderstanding, he aded, is that air conditioning units are being controlled throughout the day.
With load management, WPU targets one or two days a month, depending on weather, as its control period. The current control scheme is 15 minutes every hour, from noon to 6 p.m. Hain said that adjustments will be made if the current scheme proves to be an inconvenience.
Last year, WPU initiated the first phase of the project by installing communication equipment. As a pilot for the project, 20 DRUs were installed throughout the community.
Worthington Public Utilities, with the help of local electricians, have since installed almost 800 such units.
Prior to the DRU installation, customers will receive a door brochure explaining load management along with a choice to opt out. There is no additional cost for the installation.
Load management is not “exact science,” Hain said, due to multiple factors, such as sizes of air conditioning units or housing insulation systems.
“We can’t account for the diversity but we will work with customers if they’re noticing issues of their house heating up,” he said.
He is hopeful for a completion of the project by the end of 2013.
“Our goal is not to cause inconvenience to customers but ultimately to reduce our purchase power cost, and pass the savings to customers through lower retail rates,” Hain said.