When power lines were first connected to create power grids, the largest single source of electricity demand was home lighting. That all changed with the advent of air conditioning. Today, the most trying times for the power grid is summertime, and the hotter it gets, the harder it can be to keep power flowing without disruption.
Utilities and grid operators meet this demand with several methods. Those that can, switch on additional power generation assets. There are also demand response measures that can be called upon. Perhaps the most direct way to lower the amount of electricity consumed during peak demand times is to ask customers to conserve power.
For utilities, though, electricity costs soar when power is more in demand. PJM Interconnection day-ahead prices can jump to more than $300 per MWh — about six times higher than normal. Firing up those peaking units and buying fuel for them gets expensive too, as they tend to be less efficient at generating power than the baseload assets. Summer can be hard on a utility, in short.
Indeed, all throughout the summer, you can see utilities trying to educate the public about wise electricity use — and saving money by doing so. Getting customers to think about the resources they are consuming and teaching them a few tricks to use less power is something people in the industry know works. So here are a few of the tips utilities are sharing with their customers on how to save energy all throughout the dog days of summer.