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Peak Time Rebate Information

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What is a Peak-Time Rebate program? It’s a program that rewards members who conserve energy during certain hours when a “Peak Event” is called. On days with high electric usage, more power is needed to support our system; this additional power typically comes from resources that are inefficient and have higher costs. We are using the PTR program to avoid buying power from higher cost resources, by having members voluntarily reduce usage during Peak Events.

What is a “Peak Event”?  A Peak Event is a block of time (usually only a few hours) when we expect the system electric load to be at a very high level. This can occur on very hot summer afternoons, when air conditioners are on at full blast.  In the winter, Peak Events often occur on very cold mornings or evenings. In the spring and fall, Peak Events can occur at various times.

When will Peak Events be called?  Peak Events can be called in any month of the year.  They will typically be on weekdays, but weekend/holiday events are also possible. The events can be in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening. Some months may have no Peak Events, some months may have one or two, and some months may have five or more Peak Events.  It all depends on the weather and system electricity use.

Why does electricity cost more during “peak times”?  Utilities must be able to meet the electric demand, no matter how high it gets. Some electric generation plants sit idle during most of the year, and are only turned on during times of peak demand. These “peak generators” tend to be less efficient and more expensive on a dollars per kWh basis. In addition, it is wasteful to have them sitting idle for most of the year. Therefore, when Butte Electric has to buy electricity during these peak times, the electricity is very expensive. The peak-time rebate program allows the system as a whole to reduce demand and save money for all our members.

How do members participate in a PTR program?  Participants who signed up will be eligible to receive a rebate based on how much they reduce their electric use during Peak Events. We will notify you of Peak Events the day of the event, likely 4 to 6 hours prior, or the evening before (for a Peak Event in the morning). The events will be at varying times and durations. For example, one event could be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on a Monday, and another could be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Thursday. Your Peak Event messages will provide the details for each event.

Are there any restrictions on who can be on the PTR program?  Yes.  If you are on the “Residential—All-Electric” heat rate, you cannot use the PTR program during the time the heat rate is in effect (October 15 through April 10). However, heat rate members can be in the PTR program from April 11 through October 14. Residential members not on a heat rate can be on the PTR program all year.  If you have questions about what rate you are on, call Butte at 800-928-8839 or 605-456-2494.

What is a “peak-time rebate”?  A peak-time rebate is a payment that rewards you for reducing electric use during Peak Events.  Butte Electric will give rebate credits on your bill every six months, so the first rebate credit will probably appear in your February or March 2018 bill.

How is my rebate calculated? Your rebate is based on the difference between what you did use during a Peak Event, and what you would have used during that time, if no peak event had been called. Since there is no direct way to measure what you would have used, this value must be calculated. We use statistical methods to calculate your expected usage (if a Peak Event had not been called), based on your usage throughout the year. The rebate will be calculated based on your total energy reduced (measured in kilowatt-hours) during the events, multiplied by $1.00 per kWh saved. For example, if you reduce 2 kilowatts for two hours during an event (as compared to your expected normal usage), your rebate for those two hours would be $4.

What is a kilowatt-hour?  A kilowatt-hour, or kWh, is the amount of energy used in one hour by an appliance that draws one kilowatt of current (a kilowatt is 1,000 watts). For example, an electric toaster oven might use 1,500 watts.  If you ran such a toaster oven for one hour, it would use 1.5 kWh of energy.

If I reduce my electric use during times other than Peak Events, will I get a rebate?  No. The rebate is only for reduction during Peak Events.  However, conservation always reduces your bill.

Is natural gas affected by this program?  No.  Turning off a gas appliance will not increase your rebate. In fact, if you can use natural gas or propane as a substitute for electricity during an event, that will help increase your rebate.  For example, if you normally use an electric space heater, during a Peak Event you could use a propane heater instead.

What are the actions I can take that would earn me the highest rebate?  If you normally use an electric appliance during a specific time of day, and you shut off that appliance during a peak event, that will add to your rebate. For example, if you normally use an electric oven from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a Peak Event is called for those hours, you will get a rebate if you do not use the electric oven during that time period. The more appliances you turn off during an event, the bigger your rebate will be.  Anything that uses electricity can be turned off (see the “Tips” page for ideas).

What happens if there is a Peak Event and I can’t reduce my usage?  Nothing! There is no penalty for not reducing during the Peak Events.  Electricity use during an event is billed at the normal amount.  You can choose which Peak Events to respond to. If you do not respond to a Peak Event, you can still get a rebate if you respond to other events. The rebates accumulate over a six-month period.

I have medical equipment that uses electricity, should I turn it off during a Peak Event?  NO! Your safety comes first, so there is no reason to turn off medical equipment.

I turned off my lights during a Peak Event, but I didn’t get a big rebate.  Turning off a few lights is a good start, but if that is all you do, your rebate may not be very high. This is because lights do not use a lot of electricity compared to things like electric ovens. Lights can add up, however. Turning off ten 100-watt lights for one hour would save 1 kWh and earn a rebate of $1. Don’t forget external lighting! 

What if my electric usage already follows a reduction schedule? The PTR program rewards people who reduce usage on peak hours, as compared to what their normal usage is for those specific hours. If your usage is already reduced during an event hour (as part of your normal routine), then your rebate may not be as high. You need to change your regular behavior during Peak Events to get a rebate.

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