What is Load Management?
Load management at Richland Electric Cooperative (R.E.C.) means turning off electrical loads during periods of high-energy usage or as they're more commonly called, "peak hours." This can be done automatically by the load management radio receivers connected to electric water heaters, electric heat loads and central air conditioners/heat pumps. Or, members can do it voluntarily when a "peak alert" message is broadcast on area radio stations.
R.E.C., along with many other co-ops, purchases electric power from Dairyland Power Cooperative(link is external) (D.P.C.), headquartered in La Crosse, WI. Anytime you turn on a light, motor or electrical appliance, you expect to have enough power for the device to operate. For many years, this wasn't a problem as D.P.C. had enough power for your needs. Even in the event that D.P.C. had a power plant go "off-line" for a problem or for scheduled maintenance, they could easily purchase reasonably priced energy from another utility.
However, in recent years, the demand for electricity has risen considerably and no new power plants or transmission lines have been built to handle the additional load. This increased demand is nationwide and if Dairyland Power has a problem and needs to purchase energy to meet its needs, the costs to do so have risen substantially in recent years. R.E.C. purchases power from D.P.C. based on the co-op's contribution to the D.P.C. peak load. In other words, the more electricity used by R.E.C. members during "peak alerts," the more R.E.C. pays for that power. The load management program helps the co-op lower its demand and thus, reduce its cost of purchasing energy during "peak alerts". These savings benefit all members by keeping electric rates as stable as possible.
Through the Load Management program, loads are turned off, cycled or otherwise modulated during periods of high electricity prices, peak demand or constrained energy supply. Peak hours typically occur between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the summer, and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the winter. The Load Management program is designed to accommodate many load types. Examples based on their category of service:
- Residential: water heaters, air conditioners, heat pumps, electric heating systems, electric vehicles;
- Agricultural: irrigation pumps, grain drying systems, water heaters;
- Commercial & Industrial: Varies, but loads are usually managed with standby generation or self-directed load reductions.
Control durations are time-limited and full automation is utilized whenever possible to ensure a balance of comfort and convenience for participating members. Coordinated strategies that leverage the energy storage capacity of hot water systems, or the availability of backup heat systems, allow most residential members to experience a seamless shift.
Dairyland's member cooperatives offer the Load Management program to their members. Incentives may be offered to residential and business consumer-members who participate in the program.
Controlling is done with a Comverge radio receiver installed by a Richland Electric Cooperative technician.
If you currently have a radio receiver and is a Scientific Atlanta or a General Electric model please call (608) 647-3173 to upgrade to a digital receiver at no cost.
Under normal conditions, you should not run out of hot water. If you do, please call Richland Electric Cooperative at 608-647-3173. We can help diagnose if you are having a problem with the water heater or if the problem is related to the control time.
Odds are you have already used hot water prior to controlling thus the tank did not fill back up prior to the control taking place.
Full load control typically takes place when demand for electricity is peaking in the mid-west
Economic control takes place when the market price is too high to pass onto the membership
Many anticipated economic controls do not take place, but could if the need arose.
Anticipated number of winter control events:
Full load control (FLC) - 5 p.m - 9 p.m. - 1 per month (December, January, February)
Economic control: 5 p.m - 11 p.m based on MISO market pricing (November, December, January, February, March, April)
Electric resistance heat (no backup) - 10 times (5 p.m. - 8 p.m.)
Electric heat (with backup) - 30 times (5 p.m - 9 p.m)
Small water heaters - 10 times (5 p.m - 9 p.m)
Dairy water heaters - 2 times (5 p.m - 10 p.m)
Anticipated number of summer control events:
Full load control (FLC) - 2 p.m. - 6 p.m - 3 per month max of 9 per summer (June, July, August)
Economic control: 6:30 p.m - 10:30 p.m. based on MISO market pricing (May, June, July, August, September, October)
Air conditioners - 20 times (6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.)
Small water heaters - 10 times (7 p.m - 11 p.m.)
Large water heaters not on storage - 10 times (6 p.m. - midnight)
Dairy water heaters - 2 times (6 p.m. - 11 p.m.)
Note: Most Electronic Thermal Storage (ETS) and large water heaters are controlled on a daily basis.
If you are not sure how your control is set up, call 608-647-3173 and we can provide that information based on your off-peak loads.
This is typical during the overnight hours or if the breaker that powers your load management device is turned off. Otherwise, there is always a green light (solid or intermittent) displayed in the radio receiver window indicating everything is working properly.
If at any time power to the radio receiver is interrupted, power to the water heater and/or electric heat is delayed seven and a half minutes after power is restored to the receiver. During this seven and one-half minutes the lights in the receiver will be going on/off until the correct control signal is locked in.
There are many ways you can participate in the load management program and help the co-op reduce its electrical demand during periods of high usage. As mentioned above, if you have an electric water heater, it should be connected to a load management radio receiver. This allows the co-op to automatically turn off electric power to the water heater whenever needed. Members with electric heat who join the Dual Fuel Program can also have a receiver installed to shut off electric heat during peak hours. A third option is to have a load management receiver connected to your central air conditioner / heat pump system so it can be cycled off and on every 15 minutes during the summer "peak hours."
When you hear "Peak Alert" message broadcast by area radio stations, you can also help by voluntarily conserving energy wherever possible. By simply turning off unneeded or unused lights and appliances you can help the co-op lower its demand. Scheduling the use of dishwasher, dryers and motors away from "peak hours" when you hear of 'Peak Alert' message is also very beneficial in helping the co-op lower its costs and purchased power.
The Load Management program helps balance the demand for electricity with the availability of generation, and the ability to economically purchase electricity. Dairyland and its member cooperatives save money by reducing the need to purchase expensive power during periods of high electricity demand. These savings are passed on to member through special incentives and stable rates.