Estherville Rotarians Thursday learned that how Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative customers have options on how they can control their cost of power.
Theresa Hussong, vice president of customer corporate relations, told Rotarians that Environmental Protection Agency restrictions will require 20 percent of coal-fired electric plants to shut down. For that reason, Hussong said ILEC is encouraging members to use energy more efficiently by using less during peak demand times.
Energy conservation is something the cooperative has always done. Before, though, it was in the form of rebates.
More recently, though, the ILEC board approved a $1.1 million project to install load control regulator switches on hot water heaters and MyMeters which tell members in real time what their energy use is.
Five groups of 109 members each participated in a study, the cooperative realizing that if demand could be lowered - especially at peak demand times on weekends - savings could be passed on to member-owners. As a result, there was $287,000 in savings with load control regulator switches on water heaters and another $18,000 with volatage regulators.
The program went so well that ILEC applied and was approved for three more customer energy-conservation programs.
For 2013, the cooperative plans on installing another 1,000 load control regulator switches.
The program doesn't mean that members need to be in the dark. If every member just shut off one light at peak demand times, that would make a big difference.
In a question-and-answer session that followed, Hussong noted that the EPA had put in a rule for coal scrubbers on coal-fired plants; however, the EPA kept changing the rules, frustrating efforts by the plants.
She emphasized that a big problem is peak demand times when power is more expensive.