Power usage dipped in July

Duane Hicks

While the poor weather this summer has meant fewer days at the beach, less time gardening, and perhaps fewer occasions to barbecue, an upside is that many Fort Frances Power Corp. customers are using less electricity—and saving at least a little on their hydro bills.
Lori Cain, cost and regulatory analyst for the FFPC, said she recently was reviewing the figures for July and found there definitely was a dip in power usage.
She noted that up to June, consumption was very regular this year. But then in July, FFPC customers ended up using about eight percent less than they usually consume, based on a five-year average.
“[July] is usually when our air-conditioning load kicks on,” noted Cain, adding power demand was down about 20 percent, based on a five-year average.
(Consumption, measured in kilowatt hours, is the total amount of energy used. Demand, measured in kilowatts, is the immediate rate of that consumption).
She said it would be hard to say how much customers may have saved on their July bills, but noted “anyone that generally enjoys the comfort of air-conditioning would probably not have used that much energy.”
Cain also said that in addition to the poor weather, the public does tend to be thinking more about conservation these days.
“I think people conserve more, they’re better consumers, so that would be a combined effect,” she remarked, adding more and more local businesses taking advantage of energy retrofit programs, like the “Power Saving Blitz,” also may be affecting usage.
While the eight percent difference in power usage possibly could affect the FFPC’s projected revenues for the year, Cain noted things usually tend to balance out in that regard.
For the past five years, power consumption has remained “very steady,” varying only one percent above or below estimated usage, she explained.
This variance generally is due to weather.
But Cain also pointed out variances in power use, such as the eight percent dip, are the type of data that has to be taken into account when looking at the future.
“We have a very large pending rate application, and part of my job, and the directors and [FFPC CEO] Joerg [Ruppenstein] is to forecast where will we be in the future. . . .
“In 10 years what will our load be, what will our revenue be? We have to plan for all that,” she stressed.
“We keep very good statistics on our energy consumption and our demand, and let’s face it—all our revenues our built around what we use,” Cain said.
“We want our customers to use effectively, but if we start losing our customer base, obviously that’s going to affect revenue streams coming in and our ability to deliver programs to our customers,” she warned.