Xcel Energy wants to launch a pilot program in Boulder that would charge people more to turn on their lights or dry their clothes during the hours when demand for electricity is greatest.
The idea would be to get people to burn less watts between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and perhaps, overall. Boulder was chosen for the pilot because of its smart grid infrastructure, which would allow folks to program those dishwashers and cellphone chargers to come on in the middle of the night instead of right after work.
If the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approves the request, the pilot program would enlist about 2,000 customers and run from June 2010 through December 2011.
The idea is to encourage people to burn less wattage from 2 to 8 p.m. when demand peaks, which in turn would reduce the need for “peaking” power stations — such as the natural gas-powered unit at Xcel’s Valmont power plant east of Boulder — that are revved up to cover the spike, especially in the summertime when air conditioners are humming. Read more