NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio – What’s better than saving money, conserving resources and helping the environment? Member-consumers of electric cooperatives in the Buckeye State are doing all three through energy efficiency and load management programs. These initiatives have saved more than 40,000 megawatt-hours (MWH) of electricity over the past year. That’s enough to power more than 2,700 rural residential homes in Ohio.
Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, headquartered in North Baltimore is part of the effort. Along with other member-owned, nonprofit co-ops, Hancock-Wood emphasizes programs that can make a difference in the comfort of homes, the size of monthly electric bills and the profitability of local businesses.
“We are proud to play a role by helping our member-consumers make their homes and businesses more energy efficient,” says George Walton, President & CEO of Hancock-Wood. “Our participation in statewide demand control programs also ensures that generation remains reliable and affordable.”
Ohio’s electric cooperatives have been leaders in promoting energy savings and wiser use of generation resources. Buckeye Power, a generation-and-transmission cooperative (G&T), supplies wholesale electricity to the state’s 25 electric cooperatives, which in turn serve 380,000 member-consumers and businesses. This relationship provides other valuable services, including a portfolio of energy efficiency and load management programs.
Co-ops can select from a menu of tools and technology designed to control electricity demand during peak use periods. A variety of programs also are available for consumer-members to use in controlling individual electricity consumption and lowering their monthly bills. Some of the programs date back 30 years but have been constantly upgraded through advances in energy efficiency and power delivery.
Ohio electric cooperatives have in-house Energy Advisors, trained to perform home and business energy audits to detect problems that cause waste and high bills. These individuals offer energy assistance recommendations and technical assistance to help co-op members use less electricity, increase comfort levels during summer cooling and winter heating seasons and increase profitability by reducing commercial energy costs.
Current energy efficiency and load management programs include geothermal systems, water heaters, energy efficient new homes, lighting, rebates, and load management switches on air conditioning, space heating and water heaters. More than 50 percent of cooperative member-consumers with electric water heaters participate in the load management program.
In fact, over 5,000 Hancock-Wood members have a water heater radio-controlled switch installed, and 1,300 have an air-conditioning switch. Both figures rank Hancock-Wood as among the leaders in radio-controlled switches in the entire state.
Buckeye Power recently contracted with Clearspring Energy Advisors to analyze the benefits of energy efficiency and load management to Ohio electric cooperatives and their consumer-members. Clearspring is a third-party, independent energy-consulting firm from Madison, WI, that works with utilities throughout the country and has experience in load forecasting, marketing research and energy management.
The analysis of these programs indicated an energy savings of 40,051 MWH from July of 2011 through June of 2012. Additionally, the programs resulted in a reduction of 51,996 kilowatts (KW) in peak summer demand and a reduction of 121,050 KW in peak winter demand for the state’s electric cooperatives. The combined energy and demand reductions resulted in more than $15 million in savings for Ohio’s electric cooperatives and their member-consumers.
Emission reductions from the energy efficiency and load management programs have resulted in cutting more than 35,815 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas emissions calculator1, this is the equivalent of not consuming more than four million gallons of gasoline.
Pat O’Loughlin, chief operating officer and vice president of engineering and power supply for Buckeye Power, pointed out that Ohio electric cooperatives have a long history of supporting load management programs and advising on energy efficiency measures.
“These programs continue to save co-op member-consumers millions of dollars every year. That’s pretty impressive,” he said.
Buckeye Power and Ohio’s electric cooperatives have provided more 111,000 rebates and/or program incentives over the years, in addition to the more than 921,000 compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs which were distributed to Ohio cooperative member-consumers through the CFL Exchange Program beginning in 2008.
Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, nonprofit electric utility serving 12,900 members in 10 northwest Ohio counties, including Kelleys Island on Lake Erie, all spanning across 1,800 miles of line. Counties include: Allen, Erie, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Wood and Wyandot.