Demand is an important component of your power bill. Understand how it works.
Demand and Energy Explained
Demand, expressed as kilowatts, or kW, is a measure of power. Demand is the rate at which energy is used. A kilowatt is a measure of how much energy we use, while demand is how much load we are putting on the system at a given time. When temperatures suddenly drop and a lot of members turn their heaters on at the same time (typically during high peak demand periods such as 8 AM and 6 PM), demand on the system spikes. And when you turn on a lot of electric equipment at once, you are using energy at a higher rate (or higher demand) than if you turned on each piece of equipment individually over a longer period of time.
Why should Co-op members care?
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) bills OPALCO more when the rate at which we use energy unexpectedly increases. For example, in February of 2014, the outside temperatures dropped suddenly. When everyone cranked up their heat, OPALCO drew more energy from BPA than we had projected to use. This sudden demand translated into a more than $200,000 hit on the bill from BPA. At the time, this contributed to an unbudgeted expense. In keeping with the Co-op cost of service financial model, we pass that along to members as a Demand Charge when BPA use exceeds our contracted level.