For almost two years, most of Bluebonnet’s members have had access to a powerful tool on our website, www.bluebonnetelectric.coop.
Members who have created a user account on our site can log in and track their energy use. The tool is called the Net Energy Market, and members can use it to see how much energy they’re using on an hourly basis, how much that costs them and what their next bill is projected to be.
That’s powerful information to help members use less energy and lower their electric bills.
Until now, our large industrial members – who use the most energy – haven’t been able to reap the benefits of this energy-information technology.
Unlike residential members, those big industrial users are charged not just by how much energy they use in a month, but also by how much energy they demand at a given moment during that 30-day period. Until now, those large users couldn’t see their energy demand peak until their bill came in the mail or was available online for them to pay.
“This is a significant achievement for Bluebonnet and for our largest power users,” said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet’s general manager. “Those users will now be able to see how much energy they’re using over a month and at a given moment. This will empower them to control their use, potentially lower their energy costs and be able to better plan for those costs.”
What do we mean by “energy demand peak?” Think of it like the pipeline that provides your water. A large office building needs more water available at any given moment than your house, so the water pipe for that office building is bigger and can carry more water than the pipe for your house.
The “energy demand” is comparable to that volume of water needed. A large power user needs power lines, transformers and meters that can handle their large demand for electricity. The costs associated with all that equipment means those companies are charged differently than a home or business that doesn’t require as much electricity.
That’s why it’s important for large power users to know how much energy they use and demand, and how much their bill is projected to be at the end of their billing cycle.
Providing this information to large power users is a milestone in the electric utility industry. Bluebonnet is among the first in the country – if not the first – to provide its largest power users the ability to see their energy use and demand so they can potentially lower their electric bill. Currently, there are about 500 companies in our service area that will benefit from this technology.
If those companies can lower their electric bills, that’s a savings they can pass along to consumers, or money they can reinvest to make their company more efficient or to make new, better products.
This online tool gives Bluebonnet a potential advantage over utilities in other regions of the state or country. Businesses considering relocating could see this as a reason to move to the Bluebonnet service area. That creates jobs and opportunities for our communities.
“We have the best technology platform of any utility in the country,” Rose said. “It gives us a distinct advantage over other utilities and is one of the reasons businesses will consider expanding in or moving to our area. Whether it’s a family who uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month or our largest industrial member whose demand is measured in megawatts, our technology will help them manage their energy use in the most cost-effective manner.”