BY SARAH R. GREGORY
The Greeneville Light & Power System (GL&PS) is expecting increased costs from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) following weeks of bitter cold -- and customers will soon be experiencing the same, according to a recent GL&PS news release.
The utility issued the news release to help explain that colder conditions require homes to use more energy to stay warm -- even if the home's heating system's thermostat stays the same. The result: higher bills for customers.
"We wanted to remind you of the direct relationship between colder weather and increased home energy use, to better prepare you for the 'sticker shock' that might accompany your next electric bill," GL&PS General Manager Bill Carroll said at a Power Board meeting on Monday.
HIGHER TVA CHARGES
The news release explained that the local utility is expecting higher wholesale bills from TVA, which provides the power the local provider sells at retail to its customers.
In January, GL&PS set two new all-time peak demand records that accompanied blasts of arctic air and sub-zero wind chills.
TVA includes an additional demand surcharge on the power it provides to GL&PS.
This means that the utility must pay a charge calculated on a formula that takes into account how much energy the system required from the provider at its greatest demand level in a given billing cycle.
Electricity costs following the bitter cold and record electricity demand are expected to be much higher than in previous months.
"These very high wholesale power bills are a sure sign that our customers have used more energy to combat the very cold weather of this heating season," Carroll said.
HEAT MUST 'WORK HARDER'
He noted that customers often have questions about why their costs have gone up.
"While maintaining a reasonable thermostat setting is important, the outside temperature has a huge impact on the cost to keep your household warm," he said.
"As the temperature outside drops, every heat source must work harder to maintain our home's comfort level" -- meaning that additional energy, whether it comes from wood, kerosene, gas or electricity must be used, the news release said.
Carroll explained the concept by creating an analogy using a car's cruise control system.
"Suppose you set your car's cruise control at 60 [mph] and check your miles per gallon [fuel usage] along a flat section of highway. Let's say you are getting 30 miles per gallon. Now, with your cruise control still on 60 [mph], go up a steep hill. You won't be getting 30 miles per gallon any longer because your car is working harder," he said.
Similarly, maintaining the same temperature indoors requires more energy from your heating system as the temperature drops outdoors, the release explained.
"Suppose the outside temperature is 40 degrees and your thermostat is set at 68 degrees. Your heat source must consume energy to keep your inside temperature 28 degrees above the outside temperature," Carroll said.
"Now suppose that it is 0 degrees outside and your thermostat remains on 68 degrees. You are now making your heat source work harder to maintain an inside temperature that is 68 degrees higher than the outside temperature," he explained.
The amount of energy needed to maintain a home's temperature is dependent upon a number of other factors as well, such as insulation and heating equipment efficiency and maintenance, the news release said.
Customers with questions about energy conservation, prior energy use or payment options are asked to contact GL&PS customer service by calling 636-6200.