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Utilities ask users to reduce load for hot weather

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer

This week’s expected hot weather has some electric utilities encouraging customers to reduce their power usage.

The city of Cuyahoga Falls, which has a municipally owned electric system and purchases its electricity from AMP-Ohio, issued a news release Monday asking residents to voluntarily cut back on power usage between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily through Friday.

On Monday, FirstEnergy implemented its “peak shaving program” for the first time this year. The utility has 18,000 customers who voluntarily agreed to take a free programmable thermostat in exchange for allowing air conditioning to be turned off for small periods, said spokesman Mark Durbin.

On Monday, FirstEnergy implemented its program through 6 p.m. If the hot weather continues, the program will continue, he said.

As part of the offer for the free thermostat, worth $250, FirstEnergy is allowed to cycle off and on a home’s air conditioner compressor for 15-minute intervals on summer days when the utility determines there is high demand. The air conditioner’s fan would continue circulating air throughout the home. The utility would be able to cycle the compressor off and on up to two 15-minute intervals during an hour, but not consecutively.

Cycling a compressor off and on helps maintain system reliability on the hottest days of the year, FirstEnergy said.

Wadsworth, which has its own municipal electric department, implemented its program to reduce load for its 1,500 participants Monday, said Service Director Chris Easton.

In Cuyahoga Falls, Electric Service Superintendent Mike Dougherty said this is the first time the city asked residents to turn thermostats up a few degrees or refrain from using major appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Ultimately, it would save money for all Falls electric users, said Dougherty.

The city gets billed based on the five highest-usage days, said Dougherty, so reducing overall usage would allow a cheaper rate. The city passes along any increases or savings to customers, he said.

Dougherty said there’s no way to know how many residents and businesses comply with the city’s request.

Cuyahoga Falls does not use meters or thermostat programs that would allow the city to control the temperatures in buildings, he said.

Here are other recommendations from the city:

• Set thermostats at the highest comfortable setting.

• Turn off unneeded lights.

• Minimize hot water use to reduce heat and humidity in your house. For cooking, use a microwave or counter-top appliances instead of your stove.

• Close blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest parts of the day.

• Use ceiling fans and portable fans to keep air moving.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.



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