Encourages Community to Reduce Energy Usage from 5-9 pm
Vermont Business Magazine For the second straight day, Burlington Electric Department (BED) issued a peak alert for today, Tuesday, June 23, as part of its Defeat the Peak program launched during summer 2017, encouraging members of the Burlington community to reduce their energy usage from 5-9 pm this evening.
Burlingtonians can lend a hand by taking the following steps on what is projected to be an unusually hot summer day:
- Raise thermostat temperatures or turn off air conditioners between the hours of 5:00 and 9:00pm before returning air conditioners to cooler settings (COVID-19 note: please be aware of minimum ventilation requirements and airflow patterns related to COVID-19 – more information is available on the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) website at https://labor.vermont.gov/vermont-occupational-safety-and-health-administration-vosha);
- Wait until after 9:00pm or later to use washing machines, clothing dryers, dishwashers, and other appliances;
- Turn off non-essential lights until 9:00pm and later; and
- Delay other discretionary electric consumption until after 9:00pm.
The New England region reaches peak demand for electricity during the summer. A significant portion of BED’s costs as a utility is determined by how much energy our community is using during the summer peak.
“We are excited to continue Defeat the Peak for our fourth year, while recognizing that with COVID-19 many of our customers are using energy differently this summer than in previous years,” stated Darren Springer, BED General Manager. “We encourage our customers to participate knowing that even small, individual steps add to our community effort to reduce costs and protect our environment. During the peak, please consider unplugging phone and laptop charging cords, adjusting thermostats, and waiting until after the peak to run dishwashers and other appliances. With your help, we can continue to hit our peak reduction targets and support non-profits that are making a difference in Burlington through the Defeat the Peak program.”
Two more traditional incentives for Burlingtonians who take peak day actions include: potential reductions in utility costs that help keep electric rates low and stable; and environmental benefits that come with reduced energy demand on the regional electric grid, which decreases the need for use of polluting oil and natural gas generators around New England. A more unique and innovative incentive introduced by BED based on customer input is a community reward opportunity through which a local nonprofit – in this case Ronald McDonald House Charities – will benefit from a $1,000 contribution from BED if our customers hit the targeted amount of load reduction on a peak day.
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Burlington, Vermont, is a “home away from home” for families with seriously ill children seeking treatment at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital. “Ronald McDonald House Charities is delighted to support Burlington Electric in its efforts to help our community cut costs and save energy,” stated Kristine Bickford, Executive Director of RMHC. “BED is leading the way forward on all levels, and this partnership aligns with our objective to see positive outcomes in our community. Just as BED strives to provide exceptional care to its customers, RMHC’s main goal is to provide unconditional support to its guests while they are focused on the health of their children. It doesn't get much better than that!”
BED also notifies customers by email blast about peak day alerts. Customers are invited to sign up for these email notifications, view a video explaining Defeat the Peak, and learn more about the program by visiting www.burlingtonelectric.com/peak. BED also shares information about peak day alerts with the community through social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.
Defeat the Peak Program
The Burlington Electric Department on June 22, 2017, launched its Defeat the Peak program, encouraging members of the Burlington community to reduce their energy usage on the hottest – or peak – days of summer. Defeat the Peak is a unique approach to demand reduction that uses the following "triple bottom line" strategy to get customers engaged in the effort:
- Cost Cutting: Reducing energy usage during peak times cuts utility costs and is part of Burlington Electric's strategy to keep rates low and stable for its customers.
- Environmental Benefit: When Burlington lowers its peak energy needs, the regional grid requires less energy, which, on hot days, usually comes from polluting oil or natural gas generators in New England.
- Community Reward: Engaging customers by offering a community dividend is a unique feature of Defeat the Peak. When a "peak day" is announced and Burlington Electric customers hit the targeted amount of load reduction, Burlington Electric will make a $1,000 donation to a local nonprofit serving the greater Burlington community, such as the Humane Society of Chittenden County and Steps to End Domestic Violence. This element of Defeat the Peak makes reducing demand real and tangible for customers – their efforts on peak days provide immediate support back to the community.
"Defeat the Peak serves as another example of Burlington Electric's ongoing commitment to build a sustainable energy future that supports a growing economy and a thriving community," stated Neale Lunderville, the then Burlington Electric General Manager. "As Burlington Electric continues to lead through energy innovation, this program is an important component of our efforts to make Burlington a net zero energy city. We are excited to provide this opportunity to further educate our customers about efficiency gains that help keep money in the Burlington community's pocket, while providing a meaningful benefit for local nonprofits."
Customers have told Burlington Electric that community-based incentives, such as protecting the environment and assisting worthwhile local nonprofit efforts, would have a meaningful impact on their energy behavior – even without direct financial benefit. This is a break from the more traditional cost-based approach to changing behavior in the energy sector and has led Burlington Electric to include nonprofit donations as an incentivizing component of Defeat the Peak. The utility will contribute to local nonprofits only when Burlington is successful in achieving its demand reduction targets on peak days.
Nancy Cathcart, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Chittenden County, said: "We offer our sincere thanks to Burlington Electric for incorporating charitable giving into its new energy efficiency program. We hope Burlingtonians are even more inclined to reduce their energy usage and protect our planet by knowing that, at the same time, they would be providing much-needed funding to help foster compassionate treatment of animals and prevent animal suffering."
Reducing energy usage during the peak hour this summer will result in utility savings as 2018 expenses are set based upon the prior year's peak hour. Typically, the peak hour occurs during a weekday afternoon on a hot, humid summer day and is preceded by consecutive days of high temperatures and humidity. A great deal of this peak is driven by air conditioning being used in homes, workplaces, schools, and other facilities. While predicting the peak is challenging due to the variable nature of the weather, Burlington Electric has a track record of successfully targeting the peak hour through the use of load forecasting tools and will broadcast electricity usage requests to its customers the day before and during predicted peak days.
Burlington Electric will be using social media and print communications channels to inform its customers of upcoming peak days and to engage as many Defeat the Peak participants as possible. The utility also is inviting its customers to sign up to receive email notifications the night before expected peak load events. Customers can sign up for these notifications, view a video explaining Defeat the Peak, and learn more about the program by visiting burlingtonelectric.com/peak.
Specific steps Burlington Electric customers may take to reduce electricity consumption during peak days include:
- Raising the thermostat or turning off their air conditioners, especially when not inside the building being cooled;
- Waiting until the late evening hours to run their dishwashers and washing machines;
- Turning off non-essential lights; and
- Changing light bulbs to LEDs, powering off computers and other devices when not using them, using power strips, and unplugging unused chargers (all steps that will reduce energy consumption and save money all year long).
Burlington Electric is part of the much larger electrical grid that is orchestrated by Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE). ISO-NE manages the electric grid with a goal of ensuring resiliency, even under extreme conditions. As part of this process, ISO-NE sets energy prices in an equitable manner by assigning costs based on the share of each utility's contribution to the previous year's highest hour of electricity consumed on the New England system. With approximately 15 percent of its annual power supply expenses allocated toward the peak hour, Burlington Electric has a great opportunity to save resources by reducing peak hour electricity usage.
"I appreciate the innovative programs Burlington Electric continues to bring to our community," said Jennifer Green, Burlington's Sustainability Coordinator and City resident. "I look forward to making a focused effort to reduce my electricity usage this summer when I get the go-ahead from BED that a peak day is coming. We all must do our part to make Burlington, the State of Vermont, and our world a greener, better place for future generations."
Source: Burlington, VT – Burlington Electric Department 6.23.2020