Message From Your Manager
Understanding Energy Demand and Purchasing
Alan Lesley, General Manager
This month I would like to share with you the following article written by Meghaan Evans. It has been adjusted to fit the needs of CECA, but it is very well written, and I felt it might help you, our members, understand energy demand and how it affects your bill.
YOU MAY NOT THINK YOU NEED TO HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF energy demand and purchasing, but do you ever look at your energy bill and wonder what it all means? If your answer to that question is “yes,” then you might be interested to learn how demand impacts your utility bill.
To start, it is important to understand how electricity is made and how it is delivered to your home.
Before CECA can send electricity to your home, that electricity needs to be generated by a generation and transmission cooperative. Once the electricity has been generated, it travels over high-voltage transmission lines to substations, where the voltage is reduced to a safer level. The electricity then travels over distribution power lines and finds its way into your home. So, while you pay your bill to us—your electric distribution cooperative—we don’t actually generate the electricity you use. That is the job of the G&T.
We do help determine how much electricity our members need to power their homes and businesses, and you play a big part in determining how much electricity the G&T needs to create to keep the lights on in our community. That is where the terms “consumption” and “demand” come in.
Consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours. Demand is measured in kilowatts. A lightbulb “consumes” a certain number of watts, let’s say 100 watts per hour. If that lightbulb stays on for 10 hours, it “demands” a certain number of kilowatts (in this case, 1 kW) from the generation station producing electricity. Now, if you turn on ten 100-watt lightbulbs in your home for one hour, you are still consuming the same number of kilowatts. However, you are placing a demand on the utility to have those kW available to you over the course of one hour, instead of 10. This requires the generation and transmission plant to produce more power in less time to meet your demand.
CECA purchases kilowatt-hours from the G&T based on the average demand of our members. Peak demand refers to the time of day when the demand for electricity is highest. This is typically during the evening when families return home from work or school, cook dinner and use appliances the most. Using electricity during this peak demand period often costs more to both CECA and to our members.
Demand is the reason your electricity bill fluctuates season to season and even year to year. Generating and distributing power can be a tricky and complicated business, but rest assured CECA will always meet the necessary demand to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to your family.
Meghaan Evans writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.