Load Management/Propane Price Information
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State of Minnesota's Propane Hotline.
In light of the regional propane supply and price issues, efforts are being made by Minnkota Power Cooperative to limit the hours of load management. To help ease some concerns, Minnkota will attempt to minimize load control over long periods of time. They will purchase additional electric energy on the market to limit load control to morning and evening load periods when possible, but still trying to avoid the highest market prices which protects our members from skyrocketing electric rates. As of March 4, there have been 287 hours of dual-fuel control. For more information, visit our current load management status page. Using the links at the top of that page, you will be able to navigate to a resource that outlines our short-term load managment plans called LM Plans.
We want to caution members with dual fuel heating systems, that this does not mean that there will be no load management or that one does not need fuel for the backup system. It means that additional efforts are being made to limit the amount of load management. Keep in mind that an unplanned generation system outage can change this in a moment, creating the need to use load management to keep the electrical system functioning.
Please watch the backup fuel supply closely as the winter continues.We encourage members to have enough back-up fuel for another 50-75 hours of control during the remaining heating season. If you need to purchase LP, it would be benefiical to only buy the minimum amount needed (if your supplier allows you to do so) for the season and then fill your tank during the summer when prices go back to a lower level.
Key concepts related to off-peak electrical service:
- Even with the higher propane prices this year, the best choice is to use off-peak electricity when available and the backup propane when absolutely necessary. This is much less expensive than building new power plants just to serve peak loads. The long term impact on electricity rates would be expensive.
- Off-peak electric heat is intended to use the capacity that is already required by loads such as auto engine heaters, but is used by such equipment only a few hundred hours per year. The electric heat uses this capacity when those other loads are not using it. There is no expensive capacity in reserve to serve the off-peak electric heat. The propane furnace is the backup and using it is much less expensive than building additional power plants so that off-peak electricity is never interrupted.
- Because the savings that provide for the lower cost off-peak rate are achieved by avoiding the expense of building or purchasing extra generation capacity to meet the few hundred hours of peak demand, the systems are either off-peak or on-peak and it does not work to switch between the rates. Those using the electrical equipment during peak periods are creating an expense that impacts the wholesale power rates all year. This cost causes the average cost per kWh to increase.
- Because the duration of the peak load conditions can vary greatly, it is very important to have an adequate backup heating system and enough fuel to operate for extended periods. One should still have enough fuel for a hundred hours. How this is handled will depend on each homeowner’s situation. If they are watching the fuel level and can get more if needed, they may be able to have less on site, but for those that are snowbirds or have unoccupied seasonal home, I would suggest more reserve fuel for the backup system. Please don’t allow the backup system to run out of fuel. This will be expensive for you and create the need to purchase expensive peak capacity for your cooperative.
- In addition to using the surplus capacity in the Minnkota cooperative’s system during off-peak periods to serve off-peak heating equipment, when affordable, Minnkota purchases additional power on the spot markets. This help reduces the hours that members need to use the backup heating system. Because of the extreme cold throughout the region there have been periods when market prices were extreme. Minnkota made a reasonable and economical choice to use load management to avoid costly purchases. The load management program protects consumers from skyrocketing electricity market prices.