Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2013 - (Page 18)

SuStainability & RuRal WateR Electric Bills: A Water Manager’s Best Friend BY John e. regnIer, conSultAnt to nAtIonAl rurAl WAter ASSocIAtIon ElEctrical bills arE not ordinarily thought of as anything other than a necessary aggravation in the complicated process of producing and delivering drinking water to a customer or collecting and treating the wastewater from that customer. Surprisingly, however, these bills, with a little effort, can become one of the best tools the water manager has in his toolkit. They can be useful both as an operational aid and especially as a guide to saving money and the energy it represents by reducing electric power costs. The purpose of this article is to provide the water manager with information and simple steps to make this conversion from aggravation to useful tool. To be effective in using water electric bills, the water manager must be somewhat familiar with the rate structures his or her supplier uses to charge for power consumption. For this reason, this article includes a brief discussion of power rate structures, although such rates are only tangentially related to the electric bill. billing basics In the U.S., billing commercial (as opposed to residential) customers for electric power use is normally a twocomponent procedure. First, the customer is charged for demand, which is a measure of the generating, transformer and line capacity needed to be sure that customer has adequate power for his maximum needs at any time. This demand is 18 • Second Quarter 2013 normally measured in kilowatts (kW) for small to medium amounts, and is recorded on a special demand meter. These meters usually take 15 minutes to register the full amount of demand they see and this demand amount does not reset during the month until the meter reader manually moves it back to zero. Thus these meters record the maximum amount of demand presented to the meter during the month. The second element of the power charge is frequently referred to as the energy charge and is the amount of time electricity is consumed at the established demand. This energy is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and is recorded on the same meter as the demand. Kilowatt-hours are cumulative and thus the meter records the total accumulation during the month in contrast to the maximums recorded for demand. Special meters can also break both kW and kWh amounts down by the time of day they are accrued. Several aspects of these components are important to this discussion: • Demand charges in kW are usually in amounts of several dollars per kW and energy charges in kWh are usually in amounts of several cents per kWh. In an internet survey of power companies conducted in 2008, kW charges averaged $7.50 / kW and kWh charges averaged 4.66 cents/kWh. • Demand charges frequently have a provision referred to as a ratchet clause, which specifies that demand as billed will never be less than some fraction of the maximum demand utilized during hot summer months. • Energy charges in cents per kWh frequently are reduced at higher consumptions and the point at which this price reduction occurs is often controlled by the maximum demand. • Many power suppliers provide lower rates for kilowatt-hours and sometimes for demand for power that is used in off-peak times – usually nights, weekends and holidays. • Special charges such as energy cost adjustments are usually added to bills as a function of energy used (kWh). Such charges are not normally amenable to savings as are kW and kWh charges. http://www.nrwa.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2013

From the President
Drought Contingency and Water Conservation Plans
Electric Bills
The Energy Future of Rural America
A Tiny Drop of and Idea
Water University
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers / Advertisers.com
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2013

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