Tucson, Ariz. – UniSource Energy Services is encouraging electric customers to conserve energy from 3-7 p.m. this week to help keep their energy costs manageable while supporting service reliability through a period of extremely high temperatures across the southwestern United States.
Although UniSource expects to have enough energy to serve customers, our regional grid will be under strain as temperatures rise. The California Independent System Operator, which oversees that state’s grid, issued a ‘Heat Bulletin’ for the week and is urging providers to have all available resources online.
Hot weather drives electric bills higher because air conditioners consume more energy to maintain the interior temperatures customers choose. Utilities also pay higher prices for power during hot weather, increasing costs that are passed along to customers.
“We hear from some customers who want to know why their bills are higher in a hotter summer since their thermostat setting didn’t change. But their AC units are working much harder to maintain that same temperature,” said Dallas Dukes, Vice President of Customer Experience, Programs and Pricing. “Turning up your thermostat during hotter weather can help keep your energy costs under control.”
Customers are encouraged to conserve energy between 3-7 p.m. – the “on-peak” hours when local energy usage reaches its highest levels – by following these measures:
- Turn up your thermostat. Consider setting it at 78 degrees or higher, at a level you can safely tolerate.
- Pre-cool your home before 3 p.m., when summer on-peak hours begins. Begin by setting the thermostat three degrees lower than your preferred setting at noon, then move to a higher temperature setting during on-peak hours.
- Cook meals before 3 p.m., then heat them up in the microwave at dinnertime.
- Avoid using non-essential appliances and equipment.
- Adjust timers to ensure that pool pumps operate at night, not during the day.
- Avoid use of electric laundry dryers or other appliances during the day that can raise the interior temperature of your home or business.
- Use shades, blinds or curtains to keep sunlight out, especially during the afternoon in rooms facing west.
Additional conservation tips are available online at uesaz.com/tips.
Customers using one of UniSource’s three time-of-use (TOU) pricing plans can save money every month by reducing their on-peak energy usage. TOU plans offer lower rates during “off-peak” hours and higher rates during “on-peak” hours, both of which change with the seasons. Summer on-peak hours are 3-7 p.m. weekdays May through October, while winter on-peak hours are 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. November through April. All weekends and major holidays are always off-peak.
Conservation during on-peak hours also supports service reliability by helping ensure the availability of energy resources for everyone who needs them. While UniSource has taken steps to prepare for the summer heat, unrelenting high temperatures could impact the western energy grid. UniSource and other Arizona utilities rely on the wholesale market to supplement the resources we’ve secured to serve our own customers’ energy needs, which are highest during the summer.
If energy supplies can’t keep up with demand, grid operators must find ways to reduce usage to balance customers’ energy demands and available resources. These steps can include shutting off service for customers participating in “demand response” programs or using interruptible rates. As a last option, grid operators can employ short outages that are rotated through different parts of town to avoid lengthy interruptions for any one group of customers.
Conserving energy during on-peak hours can help UniSource ensure that such steps remain rare, said Erik Bakken, Vice President of System Operations and Energy Resources.
“We appreciate our customers’ help in supporting reliable, affordable electric service for everyone,” Bakken said. “As temperatures rise this week, we’ll be watching our system closely and making sure we’re ready to respond immediately to any issues that do arise.”
UniSource provides electric service to more than 98,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. It also provides natural gas to more than 163,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. For more information about UniSource, visit uesaz.com. UniSource and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis, Inc., which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. To learn more, visit fortisinc.com.
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