Power Alert Days
What is a Power Alert?
A Power Alert is a communication from Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) to our customers requesting that they take necessary steps to decrease or reduce their electric usage during a span of time on a select day. This timeframe usually occurs during the afternoon on the hottest day(s) of the summer. Since we cannot predetermine which day will be the hottest and result in becoming the year’s “peak day,” we generally announce a Power Alert when it is thought that a particular day may become the peak day as a result of temperature and weather forecasting.
NPU will advise customers of a Power Alert Day by posting a notice on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and issuing a Alert on our website. In addition, we will issue a public service announcement on WICH AM 1310 radio.
Why do we need our customers to lower their electric usage?
Electricity is a commodity that is bought and sold on the open market. Electricity costs are determined by the amount of electricity that is bought. When a tremendous amount of electricity is being consumed, the price increases exponentially.
Why does the price increase so much?
Every electron of electricity has to be generated in some way. The regional electric system operator, ISO-New England of which Norwich is part (or “the grid”) tries to provide just enough electricity that is needed and no more. They do this because electricity cannot be stored. When demand for electricity spikes, the system is forced to increase generation. That increased generation is called “Peak Load.”
What is the difference between “Peak Load” and “Base Load?”
Base load is what the system uses in an average day. The ISO plans for base load and provides generation capacity to meet this load every day. When electricity demand spikes, the ISO must bring additional generation on-line. Typically, these generation assets are only used to meet Peak Load demands. This electricity costs more to produce than base load. To be able to generate electricity at any given time, these generators much be in an “at ready mode” at all times. These peak generators are often inefficient to operate, adding to the higher operating costs.
Why is this important?
Part of wholesale energy costs are set by the costs associated with generating power to meet the demand of the highest peak day of the year. This is typically a hot day when many air conditioners are running. Part of the wholesale electric price is set by the cost of generating electricity at the highest peak demand day of the previous year. If we lower our electricity demand as much as possible on that particular day, it can have a profound effect on next year’s wholesale energy costs.
How can you help reduce the Peak Demand?
Customers can reduce electric usage without affecting their quality of living by limiting the use of washing machines, dryers, stoves and by turning off unnecessary lighting during the peak period of the power alert. If you are running air conditioners, make sure your windows and doors are closed tightly. Close curtains or pull down window shades to keep the sunlight out of rooms, particularly those that get direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day.