Electric Cost Reduction Options Weighed

BERLIN – Electric customers using Berlin power could see more savings if the town joins demand response programs telling electric plan operators when to run the generators for the most effect

Last year, Berlin saved $150,000 using the power plant generators during times when the market rate was higher than it cost the town to generate electricity through the power plant, but did not use any program or consultant to do so.

A program offered by Enerwise Global Technologies could potentially save more.

“It would certainly be beneficial to the town to enter into it,” said Berlin administrator Tony Carson. “I don’t see any negative impact it’s going to have on the town. There certainly will be a savings to the ratepayers in the town of Berlin.”

Just how much those savings could be is unclear.

Under the program, Enerwise would reap capacity credits from the energy marketplace and would pass on a portion of those earnings to Berlin by analyzing the market and telling the town plant when to run.

“They get paid from our savings,” said Berlin Utilities Commission alternate member Jennifer Smith.

Experts from Berlin’s electric system consultants Booth and Associates have said the program offered is a good one.

Concerns over the opportunity cost of making the move to Enerwise’s program rendered a recommendation to the Berlin Mayor and Council on whether to pursue the program difficult for the BUC.

“We just don’t have a way to compare it,” said BUC Chair Erik Quisgard of the new program, compared to the old method using energy provider Conectiv.

In the past, Berlin has saved as much as $500,000 in one year through operating its own power plant, and the BUC would like to get back to that. However, the BUC concluded Tuesday night that saving more than $150,000 was the immediate goal.

That should be possible, Smith said, because the town saved that amount last year through “dumb luck” and no such program last year.

“I’m not opposed to it in the slightest,” said Baldwin, but some questions needed to be answered, he concluded later.

The BUC hopes to pursue power savings through running the generators more efficiently through several avenues, possibly combining programs through Enerwise and Conectiv.

The BUC will recommend Monday night the council pursue the Enerwise and other capacity credit programs. “We’re going to try and get all of them,” said BUC member Mike Beaman.

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