New Consumers Energy plans could save you big bucks

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — You may have received an email or letter from Consumers Energy this week. Customers with smart meters now have new options to save money, but understanding them can be difficult.

“All of these programs with the peak power savers are voluntary,” said Roger Morgenstern with Consumers Energy.

The idea is that if you use less power on those hot summer days during peak rate times — between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. — Consumers Energy saves money which can be passed on to you, the customer.

“The price of power on the wholesale market spikes significantly during 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. during demand days,” Morgenstern explains.

There are three programs customers can now sign up for: Peak Rewards Time of Use, Critical Peak Time Use and Air Conditioning Peak Cycling plan.

The Peak Rewards Time of Use plan gives customers an alert the day before a high energy day. The next day, if customers reduce energy during peak times, they will receive a bill credit. If customers don’t, there is no penalty.

The Critical Peak Time Use plan works the same way, but there is a penalty if you don’t reduce your use.

“Many of us have programmable thermostats,” said Morgenstern. “You could program between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. turn your thermostat up from 70-75 degrees.”

The third option, the Air Conditioning Peak Cycling Plan gives you a $25 gift card for signing up.

A switch is installed on your air conditioner. On peak days at peak times, Consumers Energy switches off the AC compressor. Customers won’t be able to turn on their AC for a few hours.

“The air will still cycle inside the home, but it won’t be cool air. It could be up to four hours — not a big amount of time,” said Morgenstern.

This plan allows customers to opt out, one day during the summer without getting penalized.

“Let’s say you’re having a big party at your house and you don’t want that. You can call Consumers Energy and opt out of it for that day,” explained Morgenstern.

The estimated savings for each plan is still being calculated, but the more power you save the more money you save. Consumers Energy’s rate proposal is before the Michigan Public Service Commission for approval that could affect cost for power.

Baltimore Gas and Electric has a similar program that started in 2008. Last summer, it had more than 1.3 million participants and a total of $30million in bill credits for customers. More than 700 megawatts of power were saved. Customers had an 89 percent satisfaction rate.—–Online: Consumers Energy

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