10 Years of Beat the Peak

Delaware Electric Cooperative was founded to improve the lives of residents living in rural parts of our state. In the 1930s, the Co-op electrified farms and the Delaware countryside, transforming the lives of thousands of people. DEC remains committed to improving the lives of those we serve and, in 2008, President and CEO Bill Andrew identified a new opportunity to fulfill that important mission. 

The cost to produce and purchase power was increasing — during times of peak energy use, prices were especially high. Andrew decided to enlist members to help the Co-op control energy costs, issuing requests for members to conserve electricity during times of peak energy use. The program was named Beat the Peak. Bill told members that if everyone saved just a little energy during these peak times, the collective savings would be tremendous. Initially, Beat the Peak alerts were emailed to members and broadcast on local radio and TV stations. Eventually though, a phone call to Bill from a concerned member led to one of DEC’s proudest innovations. 

“I was out for a walk and realized DEC had issued a Beat the Peak alert that morning,” said DEC member Jill Rubacky. “I hadn’t seen the email from the Co-op so I called Bill at work and said, ‘Bill, I didn’t get a message, maybe you should call me every time there’s an alert?’ ”

Andrew knew he couldn’t call every member when an alert was issued. He also knew automated calls to tens of thousands of program participants would tie up the Co-op’s phone lines. Andrew and DEC engineers worked with the Eaton Cooper company to develop an in-home Beat the Peak indicator. The indicator was designed to light up when Beat the Peak alerts were issued — a signal is sent through Co-op power lines to the indicator box, which simply plugs into an outlet. Over the years, the indicator has been redesigned a few times, but the functionality remains the same. More than 55,000 Delaware homes now have one of these indicators plugged into an outlet. 

As Andrew predicted, the savings that resulted from Beat the Peak have been enormous. Over the last decade, the program has saved $27 million, or about $300 per member. The program is one of the reasons why the Co-op currently offers the lowest electric rates in the region. Delawareans aren’t the only individuals benefiting from this DEC innovation. The program is also helping to lower energy costs for electric cooperative members across the country. Nearly 100 other cooperatives have implemented Beat the Peak programs, allowing their members to keep more of their 
hard-earned money. 

While the program continues to grow, it is also changing. DEC is partnering with Nest to offer members a $100 billing credit if they agree to allow DEC to adjust their thermostat a few degrees during Beat the Peak alerts (turn to page 10 to learn how to sign up). The new program will offer members one more way to save energy and money — the savings will benefit each of DEC’s 95,000 members. 

According to Andrew, “Beat the Peak effectively builds a culture. Beat the Peak is an all-volunteer program because we’re a cooperative, and cooperatives are owned by their members. So, when somebody helps themselves, they help everybody. You know, when everybody saves a little, we all save a lot.”

When you sign up for Beat the Peak, you’ll receive two free LED bulbs and an in-home energy indicator! To sign up, please visit
www.beatthepeak.coop or call the Co-op at 855-332-9090.
 

The Beat the Peak in-home indicator plugs right into the wall, and it lights up when an alert has been issued.
DEC member Jill Rubacky called Bill Andrew when she missed an alert, helping spur the idea for another means of alerting members to times of peak energy costs.