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EWEB says its customers heeded call to reduce power consumption during heat wave

Two air conditioner units
EWEB asked customers to set the temperatures a few degrees higher on their air conditioners.

Eugene-area residents apparently heeded a request to reduce their electricity consumption during this month’s triple-digit heat wave. It was an effort by the Eugene Water and Electric Board, or EWEB, to help the utility avoid having to buy power at peak prices.

In addition to the hot weather, an EWEB hydroelectric facility on the McKenzie River was shut down because of a wildfire in the area.

The request seems to have worked, EWEB said, with demand coming in 10 to 15 megawatts lower than expected over the period. Customers "shifted the settings on their air conditioners to increase the temperate, they delayed electric vehicle charging, they delayed using household appliances such as dishwashers and dryers that are large consumers of electricity," said EWEB spokesperson Aaron Orlowski. "And the end result of that was that consumption was about 10 to 15 megawatts lower than expected."

Orlowski said the reduction saved the customer-owned utility about $10,000 per hour during peak times of day, because EWEB "was able to avoid making purchases of wholesale electricity on the market at extreme prices."

Of course, consumers are always urged to find ways to more efficiently use energy, not just during a heat wave. To that end, Orlowski said the voluntary reductions could be good practice for potential future policies that offer customers a financial incentive to shift electricity usage to non-peak times.

"This was kind of a preview of the type of program that we will most likely need to implement and formalize in the future," he said.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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