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Understanding Energy and Demand

  • Posted: 02.14.2021
image features a graphic illustration of a peak alert logo/thermometer

We have talked a lot about the demand on our energy resources, especially when demand is greatest during extreme and prolonged weather events.

Let’s use a lightbulb to shed some light on the concept of demand. We’ll assume a lightbulb “consumes”100 watts per hour for our example. If a light bulb stays on for 10 hours, it “demands” a total of 1,000 watts of energy, or 1 kilowatt, from the generation station producing the electricity. If you turn on ten 100-watt lightbulbs in your home for one hour, you are also consuming 1 kilowatt of electricity, but you are placing a greater “demand” on the utility to have those watts available to you in one hour instead of ten. This requires the generation and transmission supplier (in our case, Corn Belt Power and NIPCO) to provide more power in less time to meet the demand. How much energy you use overall is important, but it’s also important to understand when you use energy throughout the day and how that impacts power generation and supply.

With the extremely frigid weather that has impacted large regions of the nation over the past several days, electric demand (mostly due to electric heat) has reached historic highs. To put it simply, there was not enough available generation/supply to meet this exceptionally high electric demand.

By scaling back our demand on the energy grid and staggering energy use, we can work together to ensure that we can avoid power outages during periods of extreme cold or excessive heat.

Find out more about the demand for electricity and how demand affects pricing. Our cooperative purchases some electricity from Basin Electric Power Cooperative; Basin Electric produced this short (1.5-minute) video to explain demand response programs, and how your participation in our Switch Makes Cents program can help us all.

Contact us for more information.