Load management refers to the control of various customer electric loads during times of peak usage on the electric system. By managing loads so that they are not all on at the same time, cooperatives are able to reduce wholesale power purchases, thus saving money and resources.
Union County Electric's wholesale power supplier, East River Electric Power Cooperative, initiated the load management system over 22 years ago and the system has saved almost $90 million in avoided wholesale power costs during that time. Over 60,000 different loads in homes, farms and businesses of member consumers throughout eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota are connected to the system. These loads include electric water heaters, air conditioners, irrigation systems and large industrial processes.
Control is initiated monthly through a highly sophisticated system that communicates with control receivers connected to the various loads. East River operates the system on a federated basis on behalf of its member systems, like Union County Electric, to moderate wholesale power costs, improve system efficiencies and provide member consumers with energy options.