From STAFF REPORTS

BrightRidge, the region’s largest publicly-owned power provider, has marked the installation of its 5,000th load control device.

Load control devices divert electric usage by shutting off a system, in this case water heaters, during periods of high demand. BrightRidge calls its program TALO (Take A Load Off), and it saved system customers $211,000 in 2017 by reducing usage in times of peak demand.

“You would prefer not to have a situation where everyone is taxing the system to its fullest while the entire Tennessee Valley Authority system is at peak usage,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “What we typically see is we will set a high peak and then have a rapid fall off in usage. That is not very efficient as there isn’t the volume of sales to offset the cost of the peak demand charge.”

Peak demand is critical for local power companies as they are billed an additional “demand” charge from energy generators such as TVA for the highest one hour of demand in any month. While this charge offsets the enormous costs of maintaining sufficient capacity to power the TVA grid no matter how great the demand, it represents as much as 30 percent of the wholesale power cost budget for BrightRidge.

TALO devices are installed on water heaters in multi-family and single-family residences, and activate infrequently for a two-hour duration during times of peak demand – usually very hot or very cold days.

TALO currently sheds up to 2.5 megawatts per diversion event. Typically, the BrightRidge system sets peak usage between 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

As part of the TALO program, residents who agree to install the device receive a $40 billing credit as well as free water heater maintenance for elements and thermostats as long as they continue to participate in the program.

Should a resident have need for more hot water than that stored inside the water heater during a diversion event, a participant can simply push an override button on the TALO unit.

As the electric industry adapts to high efficiency consumer products and distributed energy generation, reducing purchased power costs is vital to maintaining lowest rates possible.

“We are proud of our personnel who developed this program and the fact that installation and water heater maintenance are performed by existing in-house personnel,” Dykes said. “This is critical as we look to keep costs down for our customers.”

For more information on TALO and other BrightRidge programs, visit us online at www.brightridge.com, or call Energy Services and Marketing at (423) 952-5142.