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How to Communicate With Customers About Load Management

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Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has nearly 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked...

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  • Jun 15, 2021 3:59 pm GMT

Load management is a critical part of utility operations, yet customers may not know what it is. To get customers to participate in demand-side programs to reduce peak demand, it’s helpful to communicate effectively with them about what load management is, why it’s important, and how they can help. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

Explain What Load Management Is and Why It’s Important

Consider the point of view of many customers, who turn their lights and appliances on and off without thinking about how the electricity that powers them gets to their home or office. Don’t be afraid of being too simplistic, as that level of messaging will be appropriate for many customers. Messages about cost savings and helping the community may be particularly effective.

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For example, Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) describes peak demand on its website as follows: “As peak demand grows, power suppliers must provide more fuel to generating facilities to keep up with demand. More fuel means a higher price per kilowatt and more cost for the consumer. By helping to control peak demand, you can help keep power cost lower and conserve energy.”

Clearly and Fully Describe Load Management Programs

Once you have explained load management and peak demand, describe how customers can help. For example, Tampa Electric (TECO) describes its load management program on its website as follows: “You select the equipment in your facility that can be turned off during high energy-use periods without affecting your daily operations…. In return, you will receive a credit for the kilowatt (kW) demand you help reduce, based on the equipment’s rating.”

TECO includes tabs for Guidelines, Credits, and Equipment so customers can easily get all the information they need to consider the program in one place.

Go Beyond Text

Use media other than text, such as videos, FAQs, and step-by-step instructions. For example, Union County Electric Cooperative has a video on its website that offers a helpful visual representation of what peak demand and load management are in a way that’s easy for customers to understand, including why higher demand means higher prices. It also shows how the coop can help customers lower their demand.

Richland Electric Cooperative includes an FAQ on its What is Load Management? website page, with questions like, “Will I run out of hot water?” and “What hours and how often are my loads controlled?”

City of Fort Collins Utilities has a clear Get Started list on its Load Management page, describing how to get more details, access electric and water meter data, and sign up to receive email messages during peak hours. Entergy has a checklist on its 2021 Load Management Program webpage, describing the steps that must be completed to participate.

For modern utilities, customers are a vital part of load management. The better and more thorough utilities can make their communication, the more likely it will be that customers get on board.

How do you communicate with customers about load management? What do you find most effective? Please share in the comments.

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Andrea Lewis's picture
Andrea Lewis on Jun 29, 2021

Great examples and insights. Thank you!

Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus on Jun 30, 2021

You're very welcome, Andrea. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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