Nebraska power utility drives peak consumption down 64% to benefit of all

Source: TextPower, Inc. 

Now that summer is here, utilities and their customers are anxious to see the results of "smart grid" investments reflected in monthly bills. What they're finding is that it doesn't always take a multimillion-dollar subsidy or a high-tech smart grid for utilities to reduce their power usage and the associated costs. Sometimes it just takes a little imagination and a cell phone. 

Northeast Nebraska Public Power District (NNPPD) was determined to reduce the costs of generating, buying and distributing power during their summertime peak load periods. The utility serves farmers that use lots of power pumping and spraying huge amounts of water for irrigation. The fastest route to reduced use, NNPPD figured, was to encourage customers to reduce consumption during the periods of highest demand and cost. If they could incentivize their customers to shift their usage, they could avoid the much higher cost of power during these peak load times. 

The problem was that customers needed real-time information to act before getting charged premium rates for high usage periods - where the peak charge time periods varied day-to-day. But through the use of "SmartAlerts(TM)" sent to standard cell phones, NNPPD empowered their customers with simple, actionable information ... and were rewarded with a 64% reduction in peak power usage. 

By working closely with TextPower, Inc., the company that developed SmartAlerts(TM) solutions for businesses, NNPPD was able to quickly implement an alerting service for their customers that gave them advance notice of each day's peak rate windows. And, because the system sends text alerts to the users' standard cell phones instead of relying on computers, smart phones or unproven technology, it was quickly adopted by hundreds of NNPPD large irrigator customers. While these customers make up a small percentage of the overall base, they collectively purchase more than 50% of the total consumption during the summer months. 

According to Scott Abraham, NNPPD's system manager, "We regularly measured a reduced load of over 50% during these high-cost load periods following notification to our irrigation customers." 

Mark Nielsen, co-founder and Executive Chairman of TextPower, responded with praise for NNPPD, "The SmartAlerts(TM) engine allows easy, inexpensive deployment to send messages either individually or in bulk. NNPPD's application is a smart approach to keeping their costs down and making their customers happy in the process." 

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