EWEB asks customers to cut back on energy use through Wednesday
Prices of $1,000-$1,700 per megawatt hour at peak times
August 17, 2023
With excessive temperatures and wildfire conditions affecting power generation across the region, Eugene Water & Electric Board is encouraging customers to voluntarily conserve energy through Wednesday, especially between 4-9 p.m.
As people shelter indoors from wildfire smoke and use their air conditioners to stay cool, the regional power grid is strained and market prices for electricity are extraordinarily high.
EWEB typically buys power at around $30-50 per megawatt hour. But the utility is seeing prices of $1,000-$1,700 per megawatt hour at peak times.
Several regional generators in the northwest have been shut down due to wildfire conditions, including EWEB’s Carmen-Smith hydroelectric facility on the McKenzie River, which has been impacted by the Lookout Fire.
Normally, EWEB can rely on the Carmen-Smith generator to meet peaks in local energy demand, limiting the utility’s need to buy expensive power on the market. But with Carmen- Smith shut down, EWEB is forced to turn to the market, where supply and demand conditions are driving prices up.
At this time, EWEB is not forecasting emergency power shutoffs or “rolling blackouts” but the utility warns that reliability could be impacted if other major generating units are forced offline.
“We are not panicked, and we don’t want our customers to panic,” says EWEB’s chief energy resource officer Brian Booth. “But if customers can take some simple steps to reduce or shift their electricity usage, it can reduce costs and relieve some of the strain on the grid during these extreme conditions.”
EWEB is asking customers to be mindful about how they use electricity, especially from 4 – 9 p.m. through Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Here are some ways you can conserve energy:
* Set your air conditioner to 74 degrees or higher.
* Avoid charging electric vehicles.
* Use small countertop appliances instead of the stove or oven.
* Delay running the dryer or dishwasher.
* Turn off any unnecessary lights and electronics.
By using energy wisely and looking for opportunities to conserve, customers can reduce the impact on the regional grid. Reducing energy usage during high temperatures also relieves strain on local utility infrastructure, allowing critical equipment to cool faster overnight and helping improve overall reliability.