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Power to save
Commission seeks ways to promote conservation

By Jack Money Published: January 11, 2008
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stomers who asked for those to be installed on their equipment received breaks on their bills. OG&E also has done free energy conservation evaluations on customers' homes, and provided customers with self-help kits containing weather stripping, caulking and other materials as part of the inspections. It also offers residential customers time-of-use pricing today, where the electricity they use during nonpeak hours costs less than it would if they were a customer with a traditional rate structure. During peak hours, their power would cost more than a traditional customer's would, but at the end of the month, if their bill would be cheaper using traditional rates, then that's the bill they would get, company officials said.

What is the payoff?
If the programs are done right, consumers could get price breaks for energy efficiency improvements to their homes, lower energy bills once the work is done and lower energy bills over a longer period of time as Oklahoma's electrical distribution system uses less power. Statewide, more energy conservation would mean less pollution and more available electricity for new needs. For electrical providers, the payoff is they wouldn't have to generate as much electricity during peak use periods. OG&E's Gary Marchbanks, manager of its demand side management program, said one of the utility's challenges is to help its consumers use power wisely. That helps keep utility bills reasonable, helps the economy and helps the utility because its ratepayer base is stable, he said. OG&E uses a load management system to keep adequate power available, and Marchbanks noted that demand side management is another part of the same equation. "In some cases, it is cheaper and more economical to reduce demand instead of building another plant,” Marchbanks said, "and if we aren't having to expend capital to build the plants, then that is better for our shareholders.” PSO officials agreed. "When we can make our systems operate more efficiently, we can not only serve more customers, but do it with fewer service interruptions,” Berny said. "That makes us more productive, more efficient, and our shareholders will have a better return. And our customers are more satisfied.”