Frequently Asked Questions about Peak Demand

What is electrical Peak Demand?

The electrical Peak Demand is the greatest amount of electricity that Progress Energy must supply to all its customers at any given time, in any one month. Unfortunately, Progress Energy does not actually know what the Peak Demand will be, when the Peak Demand period will occur, or when it has occurred until the month is over. Progress Energy forecasts Peak Demand periods by analyzing anticipated unusually high or low temperatures, the current weather, average hourly industrial and residential usages, and known constant demands. Progress Energy alerts its large customers of anticipated Peak Demand periods. Wake Technical Community College is one of many large customers receiving services from Progress Energy in the region making Peak Demand prediction even harder. When Wake Technical Community College is alerted to a possible Peak Demand period, Facilities Services alerts you so that you can help reduce electrical demand. Because we do not know when the electrical utility will measure the Peak Demand, during some months, the weather may cause us to anticipate the potential for a Peak Demand period on several different days.

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Why does Demand matter?

The goal of Progress Energy is to provide every industrial, institutional, and residential customer with adequate electrical power whenever it is needed. Therefore, Progress Energy must be prepared to supply the maximum amount of electricity that might be demanded. During the lower electrical load periods, Progress Energy pays only pennies per kilowatt-hour. However, during a Peak Demand period, Progress Energy may pay nearly twenty dollars per kilowatt-hour. Progress Energy, in turn, passes Peak Demand rates onto its customers.

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How does Demand affect Wake Technical Community College?

Reducing demand during anticipated Peak Demand periods allows the College to save on the overall cost of electricity. Also, reducing the overall electricity usage saves the College some on monthly charges. In fact, a concerted effort by the College community to reduce electricity consumption during Peak Demand periods coupled with several energy saving. This amount of savings every month could translate into an annual savings of $500,000 ore more. Demand charges are very high during a Peak Demand period. For example, during the normal electrical load periods, Wake Technical Community College pays $.07 per kilowatt-hour of electricity that would power three PCs or ten 100-watt light bulbs. However, during Peak Demand, that same kilowatt-hour powering those same PCs or light bulbs will cost Wake Tech almost $30.00. Therefore, there can be tremendous savings to Wake Technical Community College if less energy is being used during Peak Demand.

One other advantage of Wake Technical Community College using less power during Peak Demand is that this helps Progress Energy keep the cost of what you pay for electricity at home lower.

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What can I do to control Demand during a Peak Demand period?

There are many ways that you can help control demand. During Peak Demand periods, turn off all unnecessary lights and equipment including radios, fans, window air conditioners, coffee pots, etc. Your efforts do make a difference! But, remember, you must still be able to do your job, so don't stop working just because an anticipated Peak Demand period has been announced. If every employee acts as an energy conservationist, especially during Peak Demand periods, the College will reduce its electrical expense. And, the savings may translate into more funds for other beneficial University expenditures and possible savings on your own electric bill at home.

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Are there other reasons to reduce electrical consumption?

Consider another very important reason to reduce electrical consumption. The generation of electricity creates pollution. If not merely by its generation, then by the pollution produced in making and installing more transmission lines, transformers, substations, control equipment, and the associated construction. By reducing our electrical needs, we reduce the amount of pollution that would have been generated. Not only is energy conservation good for the University, but it is good for the environment and our community; more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

While Peak Demand periods are important, it is also important to save electricity on a routine basis to help reduce electrical costs. While you may not think your participation in these energy savings activities make a difference, remember that when your efforts are added to the efforts of a hundred other Wake Tech faculty, staff, and students, it adds up to a big difference. To see how much energy is used by various kinds of appliances, refer to the list here

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Is it more cost effective to leave a fluorescent light on for an hour rather than turn it on and off 5 times within that hour with a total burn time of 5 minutes?

No. It is more cost effective to turn off a fluorescent light when not in use - even for short periods of time. According to the EPA, the advances in lighting technology over the past years have made the energy used to start a fluorescent lamp comparable to 5 seconds or less at normal operation. Consequently, turning the lights off for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than leaving them on.

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How can I help save electricity on a daily basis?

  • Set your computer to save power as instructed.   
  • Turn off computers daily especially over weekends and vacations.
  • Choose replacement equipment that is "Energy Star" rated.
  • Turn off lights in offices when not in use.
  • Use florescent task lighting for office work and turn off general lighting.
  • Have incandescent light bulbs replaced with energy saving florescent bulbs.
  • Consolidate departmental refrigerator use.
  • Eliminate space heaters from offices. This is also a safety requirement.
  • Eliminate personal energy consuming items such as fish tanks, decorative lighting, etc.
  • Maintain room temperature at 78 degrees during the summer months and between 68-70 during the winter -- wear sweaters.

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