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Cut electric rates with peak shaving

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Periodically throughout the summer, Village government encourages Yellow Springers to assist with “peak shaving,” most recently on July 25 from 2–6 p.m. The practice is generally understood as a way to reduce electricity usage and save money, but what does “peak shaving” actually mean?

Peak shaving refers to a reduction of electricity consumption during times when electrical usage is the highest.

Villagers are exhorted to reduce electricity consumption during these times because doing so will save Village government (and by extension villagers themselves) money. The rate the Village pays for electricity during this period is the rate it will pay for the rest of the year, said Superintendent of Electric and Water Distribution Johnnie Burns. Thus, if electricity usage is lower during this peak period, the overall rates for the year will be lower. A brief, 15-minute period determines how much electricity costs for the entire year.

“We’re not asking you to turn the AC off, but to turn it up a bit or don’t cook or wash clothes at the same time,” he said.

Peak usage generally corresponds with especially hot days, when more people have air conditioning running in addition to their regular appliances. In fact, peak shaving almost exclusively happens during the summertime.

“I’ve never known it to happen during any other time,” said Burns. “A lot of heaters use gas and propane, while AC is all electric.”

Burns said he could pinpoint exactly when the peak rates were determined for recent years. Last year’s rates were determined by electricity usage from 4 to 5 p.m. on July 29, when it was 91 degrees. The rates for 2014 were determined on Sept. 10, when it was 96 degrees.

There isn’t a set time for peak shaving because it depends purely on the weather, said Burns. The Village gets a message from AMP Ohio, the energy cooperative from which the Village buys its power, outlining peak shaving times based on the weather forecast.

Helping villagers save money is not a totally selfless act for AMP — AMP Ohio itself has to pay for power, and high usage drives up the market price of electricity, Burns said. Basically, lower usage by its constituents means AMP Ohio pays less for electricity overall. Moreover, the heat is a bad thing for electrical wires and transformers, he said. The colder a wire is, the more electricity can be packed into it.

In addition to practicing peak shaving, the solar field the Village is building on the Glass Farm should help lower electrical rates by shaving overall demand, Burns said.

“[By harnessing solar energy] we’re going to push power back into ourselves,” he said.

In a previous article, Burns said that advance notification of peak events is usually given only a short period before the event. Villagers should watch the Village website and the Facebook Bulletin Board for notices, he said. Notifications will be posted on the Yellow Springs News website,, as well.

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