SCE program helping to ease blackouts

first_img4.8 million customers enrolled in the 20-year-old program, which is now being widely publicized because of the extreme demands on the power system. Such demands have been fueled by the real estate and remodeling boom in recent years. Southern California, especially the Inland Empire, continues to build up and suck power. Solar power options are increasing, but there are other things customers can do to save power – and money. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As temperatures cool, it becomes easy to forget the Indian Summer heat wave that left so many customers in southeastern Los Angeles County without power. Some residents went without electricity for days. That could easily happen again when temperatures climb and strain the overburdened power grid. But there is a simple way for residential power customers to conserve energy, and if enough of them take advantage, it could reduce the likelihood of blackouts. Southern California Edison offers something called a Residential Summer Discount Plan. Those who sign up volunteer to have SCE install an electronic device that can remotely turn off air conditioning units – usually for short periods of time – whenever the power grids become overwhelmed. The plan can help residential customers save $25 to $200 off power bills from June to October. In exchange, whether the devices shut off the AC or not, SCE customers receive discounts on summer-season bills for volunteering for the program. Savings are based on the type of “cycling” plan a customer commits to, the size of air conditioning usage, overall electrical use and other factors. Those who sign up will receive a visit from an SCE crew, who will install radio frequency units to the air conditioners. The devices respond to remote signals that turn off the AC, although not the fans blowing air, from a period of about 30 minutes to six hours (the latter is a rarity), but the norm is about an hour. Customers who do not detect a change in temperature can tell their air compressors are off by looking at a light on the shut-off device. None of the other electrical devices in a home will be shut off. SCE only resorts to using the shut-off system when it receives notification from the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) that electricity reserves have dropped below 5 percent – what the public may know as a Stage 2 emergency. When such emergencies occur, power begins to go out throughout the system. The utility then begins shutting off ACs temporarily to take pressure off the system and add capacity. SCE has about 282,000 of its last_img