How Peak Energy Days Impact Your Electric Bill

Posted at: 07/16/2013 6:42 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- On one of the stickiest days of the year, utility providers around the region are asking us to limit our energy use.

And controlling your peak could have an impact far beyond your next utility bill.

"Today (Tuesday) is going to be our third peak alert day of the summer of 2013," Freeborn Mower Cooperative Service’s Mike Murtaugh told us.

When your air conditioner is working you know your next utility bill is going to be higher. But when your neighbors are also running their air conditioners, and the people across town are running theirs, utility companies might have to go on the market to meet that day's demand.

"The market is very tight at that point, obviously you pay more. It's supply and demand," said Austin Utilities general manager Mark Nibaur.

But there can also be a long-term impact. Think of it like this way -- if every day of summer was perfect weather-wise except for a sweltering three day stretch ... like the one we're going into now ... the point of greatest demand -- the peak -- would be the amount electricity utilities would have to have in reserve all year to meet future demand.

"So not only do you pay for it that day, but if you break that peak you pay for it for the while year so that power's available to us when they need it," Austin’s Mark Nibaur explained.

"Today isn't going to cost them, but next year when these costs are factored into the rates that's when it comes back because those costs have to be recovered," Freeborn Mower’s Mike Murtaugh added.

“So we always want to make sure we manage that peak as much as we can, so we need our customers to help us do that," Mark Nibaur said. “The idea is to turn the lights down, turn the air conditioning up, close shades, don't do dish washing during the day."

“Just shifting any kind of use that you can," Freeborn Mower’s Mike Murtaugh added.

Utilities we talked to said they expect peak alerts to continue on Wednesday and Thursday before the weather breaks by week’s end.