December is normally not the time of year when electric utilities ask our customers to conserve electric energy. This winter is forecasted to be different and GRICUA encourages customers to be proactive about energy consumption as the Desert Southwest region faces unprecedented market conditions that could affect the costs of electric energy supplies to meet our customers’ energy needs.
Most of our electric energy is supplied by natural gas fired electric generation plants. The current prices of natural gas in the western states have increased significantly from prices in prior years and November of this year. There are multiple factors that are causing the increases in natural gas prices and electric energy supply costs including:
- Repair and maintenance activities on the El Paso Natural Gas (EPNG) pipeline continues to limit the flow of natural gas from east to west through Arizona to the California Border.
- The recent colder than normal weather has resulted in increased demand for energy – both natural gas and electric energy – which is straining the supply of natural gas across the West.
- Storage of natural gas in the western states is about 20% lower than normal for this time of year.
The above three factors are “compounding” each other and the outlook for them through February does not indicate that Natural Gas prices will reduce to price levels in recent history. Weather and temperature are the only factors that can help relieve the volatility currently causing the price spikes in the near term.
GRICUA Customers can help minimize the negative impacts of the cost increases by lowering electric energy consumption primarily between 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM. Some simple ways to conserve energy are:
- Minimize appliance use during the 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM time frame.
- Minimize the time refrigerator and freezer doors are open.
- Adjust your thermostat – between 4:00PM and 10:00 PM, raise or lower your thermostat a few degrees so that your heater/furnace will operate less.
- When you are not home, lower your thermostat to reduce energy consumption.
- Keep doors and windows closed unless necessary to be open.
- Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with LEDs instead of overhead lights.
- Turn off computers when not in use.
- Unplug phone chargers, power strips (those without a switch) and other equipment when not in use. Together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.