The use of radio-controlled switches (RCSs) saves you on your electric bill whether we activate them or not! The switch turns off power to select cooling, heating and water heater systems, and is part of a statewide electric cooperative effort to keep rates stable by reducing peak demand.
Demand is a measure of how much power is being used at a given time. Turning off the power to a water heater, for example, reduces demand. The purpose of load management is to prevent Hancock-Wood from exceeding a preset maximum amount of power being consumed by all Member loads combined – this maximum is called a peak. You probably know that electric rates are determined by the total amount of power delivered, but they can also be affected by usage of all member loads combined at the time of the peak. If a new peak is set, we are assigned a new demand charge on our bills from our power plant. Though not right away, the member's bill is affected by this demand charge: that's because eventually, if the cooperative has to pay more for power, it's inevitable someday that we'll have to adjust rates to cover increased costs.
Because of the fact that peak demand can influence electric rates, load management was devised to prevent us from reaching or exceeding the peak. An additional benefit of load management is reduced construction costs (e.g., new substations) for the utility, and therefore, reduced costs for the consumer. Since the amount of equipment and electric cable required is determined by how much power is delivered, by reducing the amount of power, the utility can conserve the need for additional construction to service a particular area.
Our Columbus-based power generation company Buckeye Power monitors energy use across Ohio at select substations. If a peak demand is forecast, a signal is sent from a satellite dish in Columbus to a satellite orbiting Earth. The satellite relays the signal back to a satellite dish at HWE. The data received triggers radio equipment to broadcast signals from a tower at Hancock-Wood to activate radio controlled switches (RCS) in participating Member homes. For the duration of time that the switches receive the signal, the circuit remains open and no power flows to the water heater or geothermal unit. Typically heat or air conditioning fans will remain functioning. Heating and cooling equipment switches are activated in 8-10 minute intervals, no longer than 24 minutes each hour, so comfort in the home is maintained. Water heater switches disable the unit’s heating elements for the entire length of the load control session. When the signals cease, the switch stops operating, and the Member's appliance(s) comes back on. This gives our Members the power to control their energy costs!
From time to time our load control program must conform to changes in our wholesale market. One such change involves our generation and transmission provider, Buckeye Power, which now is required to participate in a regional transmission organization (PJM), which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in the midwest/east. Past years saw us place an emphasis on water heater radio-controlled switches, which helped us reduce signifcant peak load in winter months and better stabilize consumers’ bills. Because of Buckeye Power’s migration into a regional transmission organization, we must now control more in the summer than winter. With that in mind, Hancock-Wood is providing greater incentives for AC RCSs, and less on water heater RCSs. This is not to say that water heater RCSs provide no value, but in operating under a different wholesale environment, the shift to AC RCSs will assist us in managing summer peak and thus helping to stabilize consumers’ electric costs. Since we realize that conditions change, and history repeats itself, we need RCSs on water heaters to remain: both AC and water heater switches help stablize bills!
Switches must remain installed for the life of your unit, and can be installed for free in three different ways:
Water heaters: Just contact us to sign up, and we'll schedule a technician to install the switch for free. You'll then see a $.50 credit on your bill every month whether we activate it or not.
AC systems: Allow us to install a radio-controlled switch to manage your air conditioning, and receive a four-month (June - Sept.) $5.50 credit whether it’s activated or not. This part of our program to help control the demand for electricity, also helps stabilize our price.
Geothermal systems: We install switches on the AC portion of the geothermal systems to reduce load. Just like our regular central air AC switch program, you will receive a four-month (June-Sept.) $5.50 credit whether it's activated or not.
Buckeye Power computers in Columbus monitor usage around the state at select substations (Hancock-Wood and its fellow Ohio cooperatives own Buckeye Power's generating plants). If a potential peak demand is forecast, a signal is sent from a satellite dish in Columbus to a satellite orbiting Earth. The satellite relays the signal back to Earth where a satellite dish at HWE receives the data. The information triggers our radio equipment to broadcast signals from a tower at Hancock-Wood. The switches in members' homes are activated by the signals. As long as the switches receive the signal, the circuit remains open and no power flows to the water heater or geothermal unit. When the signals cease, the switch stops operating, and the equipment comes back on. It's that simple.
On your switch there is a red and green light to help you determine if your switch is functioning and/or activated. The green light should always be on to indicate that it is functioning and receiving satellite signal. If you see a red light, this means that Buckeye Power is controlling the load. (Note: if your home power goes out for any reason, when power is restored the red light will remain on for 5-10 minutes by default.) - If your radio-controlled switch is circular-shaped, there is no way to tell if Buckeye Power is controlling load because you have one of the older model switches. Contact us for a replacement switch. - If your radio-controlled switch has a green and red light, but neither is lit, this is not uncommon and can happen. If this condition lasts for several weeks, let us know, and we may want to come out and test it to ensure that it is still operating properly.
To install your free switch and start saving on your electric bill:
- Email us by using the Contact Us form.
- We’ll then contact you to set up a date/time for a service rep to visit your home and install the free switch.
- The service rep will then fill out the proper form in person, and then submit it for processing.