As temperatures rise on the Texas plains, so will electricity use and electricity costs. This summer, however, Xcel Energy customers in Amarillo can take advantage of a new tool that will save them money while helping the company reduce demand on high-use days.
Customers can now sign up for electricity discounts through a voluntary program called "Saver's Switch," which allows Xcel Energy to remotely control a customer's air conditioner compressor and electric water heater for short periods of time on hot days when power supplies are tight. Customers receive up to $65 off their summer electricity bills for participating in the program.
David Eves, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company, said customers benefit by saving money and the company benefits by having more power available on high-use days.
"Power plants are expensive to build and maintain, especially when you consider that many of our power sources aren't needed during the cooler seasons when customer usage is down," Eves said. "Anything we can do to reduce consumption at the peak time helps us meet future demand without building more power plants. This saves everyone money and reduces our impact on the environment."
Residential customers can choose to install Saver's Switch on either the air conditioner compressor alone, or both the compressor and electric water heater. For the compressor option, the company pays a credit of $50 each October. A customer signing up for both the compressor and water heating controls will receive a credit of $65.
Commercial customers receive a credit of $20 per ton of refrigeration for compressor control only.
This program is available only to customers with refrigerated, central air conditioning units. Refrigerated or evaporative window units do not qualify.
When a customer signs up for "Saver's Switch," an Xcel Energy contractor will install the switch free of charge. When activated, digital signals are sent through a cellular paging network to the switch, which then interrupts compressor and water heater controls. Fans in the ventilation system are not turned off and will continue to circulate cool air through the home or business.
Grid operators at Xcel Energy will determine the duration and frequency of interruptions, which would likely come in 15-20 minute intervals during the highest-use days, which generally fall between June and August. Interruptions normally won't take place on holidays or weekends.
The program has been successful in the areas of Minnesota and Colorado served by Xcel Energy, and has helped the company avoid building expensive new power plants to keep up with growth. An independent test of 40 homes in Minnesota, where summertime heat includes high levels of humidity, showed an average increase of only one to two degrees Fahrenheit during activation.
To enroll, residential customers should call Xcel Energy's 24-hour customer service line at (800) 895-4999. Business customers can enroll by calling Xcel Energy's business line at (800) 481-4700. Customers also can enroll online at
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