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. 

 Electric Heating Sales Tax Exemption Information

Electricity sold for residential use is not taxable for the billing months of November through April when sold to metered members who use electric heat as their primary source of residential heat. If more the one type of heat is used, electricity is not taxable if electric is the primary source of heat. Primary source of residential heat is the source that supplied more heat than any other source for the largest period of time during the heating season. Members with an off-peak meter are only exempted sales tax on the electricity that is recorded on the off-peak meter.

Some buildings have both residential quarters and commercial operations. If there is one meter for the entire building, the exemption applies if more than 50 percent of the square footage of the building is residential.

Complete and submit the following form only if you are eligible for the exemption.  If you have more than one account, an exemption form must be filed with each location.

The State of Minnesota recommends the Exemption forms should be updated and resubmitted every 3 to 4 years to be eligible for the exemption.  Members who receive a tax exemption when electric heat is not their primary source of heat are in violation of the sales tax law.

Commercial Accounts must use an ST3 form.  Please complete, print and submit form to: Beltrami Electric Cooperative, PO BOX 488, Bemidji, MN 56619-0488

Residential Accounts must complete the Residential Electric Heat Sales Tax Exemption form.