PEPCO should encourage its Time of Use program

Dec 16, 2007 Published by Tony Primerano

A few days ago I was having my old AC unit removed and my AC technician noticed that I had a PEPCO Kilowatchers box on my AC Unit. "You won't be needing that on the new unit" he said. Sure enough they killed the program 3 years ago. These boxes allowed PEPCO to turn off AC units during peak hours to prevent brown outs and help them reduce expenses. In return, people who volunteered to add this box to their AC Unit would get paid each time they were turned off. I think the max was 1 hour per day. So much for trying to get by with fewer power plants.

When I moved into my house in 1998 the power meter was setup for Time of Use (TOU) billing. The off peak rate was about 1/2 the normal rate and the peak rate was a few cents higher than the normal rate. Since my wife and I worked during the day, this saved us money. I kept the AC off during the day and turned it on again when the rates dropped. A few years ago PEPCO changed the off peak rate to be almost the same as the normal rate so I dropped the program. There was no longer incentive to participate.

Just this week I heard that utilites pay 10x more for energy during peak hours. Giving me 50% off my off peak rates seems like a huge win for them and me. I don't understand why they removed the incentive.

My guess is that since they no longer own any power plants, they are no longer concerned with having to build new plants to keep up with demand. Any increase in peak power can just be passed onto consumers and they profit regardless.

Time of Use programs have the power to reduce the need for more plants and they allow us make better use of our existing infrastructure. Perhaps the government should push for reasonable TOU programs so we can reduce our peak energy usage.