Lakeland Electric Announcement Hints at Discount-for-Conservation Rates

solarsquareLakeland Electric’s announcement of new rates for solar power users hinted at steps the utility is taking to give customers more control over their electricity bills.

Yesterday’s announcement focuses on pricing for customers who install solar arrays for home electricity after Jan. 1. They will be charged a rate called “residential peak demand” that encourages them to shift usage away from hours heaviest-use hours: think mornings when people are getting ready for school and work and afternoons when air conditioners crank up.

Instead of the flat rate most residential customers use, solar customers will pay a lower amount per kilowatt-hour of energy but they’ll be assessed a “demand” fee for energy consumed during peak hours. The 73 current solar home customers can stay with the flat rate for 10 years or shift to the new plan.

The announcement noted that residential peak demand is already available to all residential customers. So is another plan intended to trade discounts for conservation called “Shift to Save.”

The purpose behind both discount programs is to reward people for behavior that helps the utility reduce the amount of power it needs to produce at expensive “peak” times and avoid adding new generators.

Peak hours for the residential peak demand rate. Major holidays are excluded.
Peak hours for the residential peak demand rate. Major holidays are excluded.

“We’re trying to forge a partnership with consumers so we can all work together to minimize the amount of investments we have to make in the next 10 to 15 years,” Lakeland Electric General Manager Joel Ivy told The Ledger.

Lakeland Electric is planning a major push to promote the new rates next summer, Marketing Manager Cindy Clemmons said. By then, the utility expects to launch an updated website with tools aimed at helping consumers decide which rate plan is best for them.

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For now, customers who want to check into the rate plans can call Customer Service at 863-834-9535 to explore their options based on their usage history, Clemmons said.

The various plans are described online, and customers who have an e-bill account can log in and check their power consumption patterns.

“Demand management is a huge behind-the-scenes topic in the utility industry and it’s going to become very public in the next year or two, I’m very sure of that,” Jeff Curry, the utility’s alternative energy manager, told The Ledger.

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