Thursday, July 13, 2006

Incentives for power conservation from Toronto Hydro

With Ontario's electricity supply struggling to meet demand, especially over the summer months, Toronto Hydro has introduced two incentive programs, which also yield the benefit of having to pay for less electricity due to decreased consumption.

The first incentive is through a new program that was just announced today. Toronto Hydro launched The Toronto Hydro Summer Challenge: a simple, customer-friendly program designed to help conserve electricity and reduce overall energy demand during the critical summer months. Under the Challenge, eligible residential and small commercial customers who reduce their electricity use by 10 per cent or more this summer, compared to their weather-normalized consumption in the same period last year, will receive a credit equal to 10 per cent of their electricity bill for that same period. (July 15 to September 15.)

Residential and small commercial customers (less than 50kW per month) who have resided at the same premise since at least September 1, 2005, can participate in the Toronto Hydro Summer Challenge.

As customer meters are not necessarily read on July 15 and September 15, Toronto Hydro must derive a daily average kWh consumption that will be applied during the Challenge period. Based on actual meter reading periods, Toronto Hydro will prorate the total kilowatt hours consumed during the billing cycles that span the summer months. The daily kWh average for 2005 will then be normalized using a seasonal adjustment factor of 92 per cent, based on a 30-year average of summer temperatures, to account for the hotter-than-normal summer temperatures experienced in 2005.

For additional information on the Toronto Hydro Summer Challenge Program and tips on how to reduce your use, visit

The second incentive introduced by Toronto Hydro is the peakSAVER AC program. PeakSAVER is an innovative program designed to help you reduce the demands on our electricity system. A peakSAVER switch will be installed on your central air conditioner. During peak times, like hot summer days, a signal will be sent to cycle your system off and on to reduce the amount of electricity needed by the province. You won't even notice a difference, and you're doing your part to conserve without any further time, effort or cost.

Participation in this program program will not cost you anything and there are no maintenance costs. As an incentive, if you sign up for the standard peakSAVER Program, you will receive a $25 cheque.

For additional information about the peakSAVER AC Program, visit

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Anonymous said...

So they are adjusting last year's consumption downward, and then comparing it to this year's consumption?

If so, with temperatures this year being as hot as they were last year, it's going to be nearly impossible to use less electricity than last year for most (unless we convert their houses into saunas).

Why? You not only do you have to save 10% of the actual energy consumption from last year, you also need to save an additional 90% of the 'adjustment' factor. (i.e. if I use 100 kwh last year, and it is adjusted by 10%- so that after adjustment, I use 90 kwh, I need to reduce this year's consumption to 81 kwh (10 kwh from the pre-adjusted consumption last year, plus 90% of the adjusted consumption, which is the other 9 kwh).

If temperatures this year remain the same, let's assume the number of days that a/c's run are the same, where else are you going to save significantly? (I already practise the tips that Toronto Hydro recommends, i.e. I have no incadescent light bulbs, all my windows are chauked etc). But I don't want to live in a sauna.

What they should do instead is charge people triple or quadruple for any overages in consumption compared to last (or the previous) year. (i.e. if a person used 100 kwh last year, but used 110 kwh this year, that extra 10 kwh would be charged at 3 or 4 times the regular rate. That will change behaviour quick. I think people would work harder not to lose money rather that work harder to save money.

Classic carrot or stick approach. Unfortunately, the effort needed to attain this carrot is quite steep. They should have gone with my stick approach. That way not only would the distribution company make more money, people would make more of an effort to conserve electricity.

Jason said...

I'd have to agree with you. Like my friend, Chris Rickett, a city councillor in Stratford, says, you gotta change the economics before enough people start caring about the environment.

If using historical electrical consumption trends as a baseline for punitive pricing of over-usage economic change that gets people to reduce consumption, then so be it.

Toronto Hydro is also in the process of introducing smart electrical meters. With this, expect to see even more changes to current electrical pricing models that should change people's behaviour (i.e. shifting consumption from peak to non-peak hours).

One extra benefit of smart meters is that the customer can monitor their consumption levels and adjust accordingly. Hopefully with devices like this, people will really take notice and change their behaviour.