Beat the Peak

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This article was featured in the February 2023 issue of Kansas Country Living


If you look around your home, you likely have more devices and equipment that require electricity than ever before. Our connected lives are increasingly dependent on more electricity to function. At the same time, as demand for electricity rises, Prairie Land Electric must deliver an uninterrupted, 24/7 power supply — regardless of market conditions or other circumstances. 

As you would expect based on your family’s habits, electricity use fluctuates throughout the day based on consumer demand. Prairie Land Electric must provide enough electricity to meet the energy needs of all members during times of highest energy use or “peak hours.” These peak times are typically in the morning as people start their day and in the evening as people return to their homes.

What you may not know is that electric utilities, including Prairie Land Electric, typically pay more for electricity — either from a power plant or from another utility with excess power — during those morning and evening “energy rush hours.” In addition, the demand for electricity is even higher when it’s especially cold outside, when heating systems must run longer to warm our homes.

If the “peak times” concept is a bit puzzling, here’s an easy way to think about it, and it’s similar to a major concert. We know costs go up when there is strong demand for tickets (or electricity), and both are subject to the basic economic laws of supply and demand. When a lot of people want the same thing, it’s more expensive. When they don’t, it’s cheaper — like a bargain matinee or an “early bird” special at a restaurant. 

While Prairie Land doesn’t have a peak energy rates or time of use rates, reducing usage during peak times (generally between 8 and 11 a.m. during winter months and 3 and 7 p.m. during summer months) can help alleviate high power costs for your cooperative and help keep retail rates low. 

During peak periods when the cost to produce and purchase power is higher, we encourage you to take simple steps to save energy, such as turning your thermostat down a few degrees, turning off unnecessary lights and waiting to use large appliances during off-peak times. 

You can also save energy by plugging electronics and equipment such as computers, printers and TVs into a power strip, then turn it off at the switch during peak hours. If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust the settings to sync up with off-peak periods. When we all work together to reduce energy use during periods of high electricity demand, we can relieve pressure on the grid and save a little money along the way. 

Another benefit of this time-of-use approach to electricity use allows greater control over your bill. Reducing the peak impacts the power-supply cost to every co-op member. This is particularly noticeable as energy costs have risen across the nation. Collectively, everyone conserving energy and making small changes can truly make a difference.

Remember, taking simple steps to save energy throughout the day and shifting energy intensive chores to off-peak hours is a smart choice for you and our community.