LOAD MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Load management programs, commonly referred to as "ripple" or "off-peak", are used by electric utilities to manage a consumer's use of electricity (via specific loads) in order to reduce an electric system's total demand at the time of maximum (peak) usage. Load management is energy conservation at work and is designed to save you money.
Making Your Off-Peak Electric Heating System Work for You
Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating your backup heating system:
- Automated backup heating systems provide greater convenience than manually operated systems.
- The backup heating system must have adequate capacity to heat the home for extended periods.
- You must have adequate fuel for the backup system.
- The ability to shut off the off-peak electric heating system when demand exceeds available energy and the wholesale energy market becomes very expensive enables you to receive the lower cost off-peak rate.
- Protect your off-peak rate by using your backup heating system during periods of control. Tampering with the load management system or use of on-peak plug-in type electric heaters as a backup will incur excessive cost for the cooperative membership as a whole. If tampering is discovered, you may be removed from the off-peak program.
Load Management Frequently Asked Questions
Load Management or demand response, commonly referred to as “ripple” or “off-peak” is a program developed by Minnkota Power Cooperative, Beltrami Electric's wholesale power supplier, which allows specific loads to be turned off when experiencing a peaking electrical demand situation. This allows members to reduce the cost of their electric heating by reducing electrical demand expense. Other equipment, such as water heaters or dryers can also be connected to the off-peak service and receive the reduced rate, which is approximately 44% lower than the regular rate.
Members can enjoy the comfort and convenience of electric heat and save money, too, by installing off-peak heating equipment in their new or existing home. An off-peak electric heating system consists of an electric heat source as its main component and a supplemental heating source that will typically operate 100-300 hours per year during times of peak electrical demand in the region.
How it works: Minnkota Power sends a signal over the power line that is received by the ripple control device in the member’s home. This controlled load allows more efficient operation of power plants, reduces the need to construct additional power plants, and lowers the cost of all kilowatt-hours (kWh) produced. This also aids in the integration of renewable energy, allowing loads like storage heat to run when the wind is blowing, which is typically during times of lower demand.
Beltrami Electric Cooperative is billed by Minnkota Power based on the demand during “peak” load periods. It is in members' best interest to lower this demand during peak periods in order to keep our power costs down. Members voluntarily participate in this program and in return receive a reduction in the electrical service rate they pay for all kilowatts (kW) used by their off-peak equipment. The members that participate in the load management system reduce these billing demands, providing the savings that allows for the reduced off-peak rates.
The off-peak program offers a lower electric heating rate that is approximately 44 percent lower than the regular service rate, making electricity one of the most stable and cost-effective energy sources available. With the off-peak rate, electricity is very competitive with other heating fuels such as propane or fuel oil. And the off-peak rate really looks good during times when fossil fuel prices unexpectedly rise dramatically.
Yes! A home with an existing fossil fuel heating system can be converted to off-peak electric heating very easily. Our Energy Experts can meet with you and advise you on the best electric option to meet your specific needs.
To qualify for the load management program, participants must have an adequate backup heating system to use when their electric heating system is controlled. The backup system must be able to meet your heating needs during these control periods. Automatic backup systems or storage heating systems are recommended.
This varies depending on the equipment you have connected to the off-peak service. There are three control categories.
Category 1: Short-Term Interruptible Loads
This category includes water heaters and dryers. These loads can be controlled for four hours at a time, and up to eight hours per day.
Category 2: Medium-Term Interruptible Loads
This category includes slab storage heat and thermal storage heat. These loads can be controlled up to 16 continuous hours per day. It is important that your storage heating system is designed for this type of control.
Category 3: Long-Term Interruptible Loads
This category is for dual-fuel heating systems, such as fossil fuel furnaces with a plenum heater. These loads can be controlled for extended periods, with no set limit. It is very important that your back-up heating system is able to meet your heating needs during these times.
Note: during periods of extreme cold weather, it is crucial to check your propane tank level and ensure that it isn't low as low amounts of propane may not be able to provide sufficient heat.
If you have any questions about the above information, contact our Energy Services Department at 444-2540.
A number of factors affect the amount of load management, including but not limited to: market conditions, weather, generation capacity and transmission constraints. The most significant factor influencing load control is the wholesale energy marketplace. Overall growth in the amount of electric use has consumed some of the surplus power available in the regional power pool.
Another factor is the weather. Low temperatures in the region increase the demand for electricity. When the demand exceeds the available capacity, Minnkota will purchase available power when it's below a predetermined price cap. This practice avoids additional hours of control. In recent years, when our wind generation is producing there has been less control. However, when it is extremely cold and the wind is not available, there will be a need for more hours of load management.
It is very important to have an adequate backup system that is functioning properly.
If your backup system is not functioning, contact a heating contractor immediately to have the problem fixed. Beltrami Electric works with contractors to disable your control while repairs are being made. If you feel your backup heating system is no longer meeting your needs, contact the cooperative or an electrical or heating contractor for suggestions on how you can improve your system.
An adequate backup heating system in required.
Load management is not about shutting off your home's heating system. It is about switching to an alternative heating system, your backup. Addressing your home's heating during periods when the off-peak electric heat is not available is why you must have a backup heating system. It is important you have heat during these times. Without a backup heating system, you are ineligible to participate in the load management program.
Yes. A blend of off-peak electric heat and fossil fuel backup is still very competitive with heating with straight propane or fuel oil. However, it is very important to have an adequate backup heating system that fits your needs and lifestyle. It is projected the amount of control for dual-fuel heating systems will be 200-300 hours this heating season. If dual-fuel systems were controlled for 400 hours, you would still be able to use the electric portion of your dual-fuel system approximately 80 percent of the heating season. By having other appliances on the load management program, such as water heaters, dryers, indoor hot tubs, and more, you can take advantage of the reduced rate all year long-not just during the heating season.
No. Minnkota Power actually purchases power to cover its off-peak loads when demand exceeds capacity and when it's economically feasible.
Load Management Program Requirements and Info
To qualify for a residential off-peak meter, you must have electric heat. The system must have a backup heat source, either dual fuel or adequate thermal storage. This will allow the electrical service to be interrupted during times of peak electrical demand. The hours of control each heating season vary. The control periods can continue for extended lengths of time. The backup system must be able to meet your heating needs during these times of peak electrical demand.
The minimum amount of electric heat required for Beltrami Electric Cooperative to install an off-peak meter is 5 kW. In the case of baseboard heaters 5 kW is 20 feet. Most homes that are heated with electric heat have much more than this minimum requirement.
Beltrami Electric Cooperative requires members installing the off-peak system to enter into a Load Management Agreement. This agreement allows Beltrami Electric Cooperative to interrupt the power to the off-peak equipment. In the agreement, you acknowledge that you will use your backup system during these times.
The member is responsible for the installation of the off-peak system wiring. Most members will have this work completed by an electrical contractor. This includes a second meter base for the off-peak meter, an off-peak circuit breaker panel in the building, the control contactors and other wiring equipment.
When required the state electrical inspector must inspect all electrical wiring.
Beltrami Electric provides the ripple control receiver. The member or their electrician is responsible for the installation of the ripple control receiver.
Equipment connected to the off-peak service must be direct wired and controlled by the ripple receiver. This means that no standard cord and plug heaters or other equipment can be utilized on the off-peak service.
Some equipment that should not be on off-peak services: kitchen range, dishwasher, refrigerator, water pumps, lighting, and general power outlets.
If you have any questions, please contact the energy services department at Beltrami Electric Cooperative. We can be reached at (218) 444-2540 or 1-800-955-6083.
Determine which qualifying off-peak system will meet your heating needs. If you need assistance in this area, one of Beltrami Electric's Energy Experts can help.
Complete a Load Management Agreement (available at the co-op).
Have your electrician install a qualified off-peak heating system, including the ripple control receiver. Beltrami Electric will supply the ripple control receiver and a fuse link free of charge to members installing a qualified off-peak system.
Once your system is installed, including the ripple control receiver, contact Beltrami Electric to schedule a final inspection and install an off-peak meter.
Enjoy your new low-cost, off-peak rate.
Low-cost off-peak rate. The cost of off-peak electricity is approximately 44 percent lower than the regular service rate. This reduction makes electricity one of the most effective and convenient energy sources available.
Water heaters and other special loads can be on the off-peak meter. These other loads receive the reduced rate.
Electric heating equipment guarantee. This program offers repair of our member s’ electric heating equipment. There is a $100 maximum the cooperative will cover for repairs. Any amount over this is the member’s responsibility. Many electric heating repairs are less than $100. This amount is limited to one claim per 12 months. The equipment must be installed correctly. This does not cover damage caused by neglect. Contact our energy services department to learn more.