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Many ComEd customers will be able to power down for cash

By: Julie Wernau |

Starting Wednesday, ComEd customers with smart meters can sign up for a new program that rewards them with credits on their bills for reducing power use at their homes during times when electricity demand is highest.

Commonwealth Edison Co. said customers could earn a total credit of $4 to $12 in a “peak time” period by setting their thermostats 4 degrees higher or delaying use of the dishwasher, clothes dryer, vacuum cleaner, lights or electronics.

According to the Citizens Utility Board, which pushed for the program along with other consumer advocacy groups, participants will get a $1 credit for every kilowatt-hour of power use they cut.

ComEd will determine the total amount of a customer’s credit using a formula based on typical use history during similar “peak” times.

“Peak Time Savings” is ComEd’s first pricing program that tries to engage its approximately 425,000 customers that have new digital smart meters. ComEd, which is installing 4 million of the meters across its service territory, is expected to complete that project by 2018.

Yep … pay by the minute. No consumer price will really go down, but the overall cost will increase.
at 12:38 PM October 02, 2014

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The meters can relay information in real time about electricity use to consumers. That makes it possible for ComEd to offer programs that reward customers for using electricity when electricity prices are cheapest. Customers who choose not to reduce power won’t be penalized, ComEd said.

Here’s how the program works: ComEd would notify participants of a “peak time” period by phone, text or email at least 30 minutes before the start of the period. Mostly likely, those alerts would come during hot summer days when electricity demand is high. While it’s unlikely that someone working downtown would rush home to turn off an air conditioner because of a text alert, ComEd envisions people moving toward smart devices in their homes that can be controlled from anywhere via smartphone.

Customers with a ComEd bill and a smart meter can sign up for the program, regardless of whether they have another company supplying their electricity.

People who want to participate in the program in summer 2015 can sign up from Oct. 1 to April 2015. Those who sign up after April 2015 will be able to participate no earlier than summer 2016. To sign up, go to comed.com/pts.