Electric co-op asks area consumers to ‘Beat the Peak’

In an effort to manage the high usage of electricity in the hot summer months, the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative has instituted a new energy conservation initiative called “Beat the Peak.”

The campaign, which is designed to eliminate the need for possible rate increases, asks consumers to make small changes in their daily electricity usage to keep SVEC’s costs low.

“You can look out the window, and check the weather – when it’s really, really cold or really, really hot, we’re paying the most for your electricity,” said Jason Burch, SVEC’s manager of system engineering. “Those are the times where if you can wait until the temperature has subsided (before turning on your air conditioning), it’s greatly appreciated.”

The cooperative has put similar programs in place in the past, but not with the exact format as Beat the Peak.

“Electricity doesn’t cost the same all day long,” Burch said. “For 30-plus years we’ve known that … We wanted to get the members involved a little bit more. What we’ll do with the Beat the Peak program is use the same forecasting we’ve been using and chase down peaks for the year. We’ll ask for members’ help – to turn lights off, not run their dishwashers for an hour or two, not do laundry for an hour or two.”

The reason for the launch of Beat the Peak is simple economics, said Burch.

“It’s supply and demand – it’s as simple as that,” Burch said. “Let’s say it’s 95 outside and the whole East Coast has a heat wave on it, the whole East Coast is calling for AC – it is an electric grid, generation capacity and marketplace issue.”

Burch said that he hopes to get consumers on board and work in tandem with the cooperative.

“We’d like to gain an active role in keeping their power costs low,” Burch said. “What we’d really like to see is a group of our members sign up and really care about this and give us feedback and help us initiate, to where it becomes a community based idea – it doesn’t take a lot of salesmanship on our end.”

Burch said the Beat the Peak program is voluntary and won’t necessarily result in direct customer savings, rather those customers will be able to prevent an increase on their bills.

“The program’s intent is not to save directly on someone’s bill,” Burch said. “The idea is kind of getting everybody on the same board that together, with each of us doing a small amount of work or effort, that we will all save money going forward. It’s a help-your-neighbor type of thing.”

There are several ways to enroll in the program, said Burch.

“There are a couple options,” he said. “One of them is to come into our office and sign up; they can go online and fill out the form and they can also call us. The process is the same no matter which way you choose.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com