With temperatures climbing, Oklahoma's electric utilities are rolling out incentives to get customers to use less power in the heat of the day.
Electric companies pay more to generate electricity during peak periods because they have to use all their generators at once. In off-peak times, they use only their least-expensive generators.
Also, because utilities build new power plants based on forecast peak demand, lower electricity usage allows the companies to delay construction plans, saving money for the utility and its customers.
Several Oklahoma utilities next month will roll out their summer “smart” pricing plans, which more efficiently pass those costs and savings to customers.
Under the summer pricing plans, customers pay a higher rate for electricity when demand is at its peak but less during nonpeak times.
The plans allow customers to save money by doing chores such as the laundry in the morning or late evening rather than in the afternoon, when air conditioner use and industrial demand are at their highest.
Utilities have different peak times and rates, but the programs have numerous similarities.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. considers its peak hours to be from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays from June 1 to Sept. 30. Customers who chose to participate in the SmartHours program will pay 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for off-peak hours. During peak hours, that same electricity will cost 4.5 cents to 46 cents, depending on overall demand on the system.
OG&E customers who choose not to participate in SmartHours pay the standard rate of about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour at all times.
According to OG&E's website, participating customers saved an average of $200 last summer.