Grid Managers Urge Residents To Conserve Energy This Summer
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Aired 6/18/13 on KPBS News.
As we head into the summer months, electricity grid managers remind consumers to conserve power.
California’s electricity grid managers hope to energize consumers to conserve power this summer. Advertisements started running on television stations around the state. Their message is intended to nudge residents to think about their electricity use for the coming months.
The advertisements jokingly applaud people's hands, or "a collection of nimble digits" as devices that are "as adept at turning things off as they are at switching them on."
"Especially if we face power shortages and state officials call a flex alert," the advertisement continued.
State and local officials expect the demand for electricity to be up slightly more than last year, but San Diego Gas and Electric President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Niggli said there should be enough power.
“This year we are expecting about 4,600 megawatts of demand in our region under normal conditions," he said. "That may get up to as much as 5,100 megawatts of demand if we have an exceptionally hot summer and we’ll need to supply for that.”
One huge piece of the supply puzzle is people, said Stephanie McCorkle of the California Independent System Operator, which manages the electricity grid. McCorkle said the ads focus on educating power customers.
“People can have an enormous impact." she said. "They’re basically creating the kind of megawatt output that comes from a power plant."
McCorkle said the cheapest and cleanest megawatts in the power system are those that are never used. She said cutting back power usage during peak hours has had measurable benefits for the grid, and it also helps customers.
"You are benefiting your pocketbook, your bill’s going to be lower, you’re benefitting the power grid, because reliability is going to be protected," she said. "And you’re also benefiting the planet, because this is all good for the environment.”
Utility officials said it's tough to accurately measure the impact of conservation, but they say a 5 to 10 percent reduction in power demand is considered a reasonable result.