The use of radio-controlled switches
(RCSs) saves you on your electric bill whether
we activate them or not! The switch turns off power to select
cooling, heating and water heater systems, and is part of a statewide
electric cooperative effort to keep rates stable by reducing
Demand is a measure of how much power is being used
at a given time. Turning off the power to a water heater,
for example, reduces demand. The purpose of load management
is to prevent Hancock-Wood from exceeding a preset maximum amount of
power being consumed by all member loads combined -- this
maximum is called a peak. You
probably know that electric rates are determined by the total
amount of power delivered, but they can also be affected by
usage of all member loads combined at the time of the peak.
If a new peak is set, we are assigned a new demand charge
on our bills from our power plant. Though not right away,
the member's bill is affected by this demand charge: that's
because eventually, if the cooperative has to pay more for power, it's
inevitable someday that we'll have to adjust rates to cover
Because of the fact that peak demand can influence electric
rates, load management was devised to prevent us from
reaching or exceeding the peak. An additional benefit of load
management is reduced construction costs (e.g., new substations)
for the utility, and therefore, reduced costs for the consumer.
Since the amount of equipment and electric cable required
is determined by how much power is delivered, by reducing
the amount of power, the utility can conserve the need for
additional construction to service a particular area.
we reduce demand
Our principal method of reducing demand a few days each year
is the RCS. Radio signals to the
switch turn off the equipment when a new peak demand is possible,
such as on very hot or cold days. Switches are activated for parts of an hour over a 2-6 hour time frame, usually in the afternoon, but sometimes in the morning. Most water heaters are capable
of holding their heat for extended periods of time, so there's
little or no inconvenience to the consumer. The program has
resulted in significant savings to Hancock-Wood and its consumers,
and thousands of our members receive the RCS credit every
month! Plus, installation of the switch is free.
Summer peaking and PJM
From time to time our load control program must conform to changes in our wholesale market. One such change involves our generation and transmission provider, Buckeye Power, which now is required to participate in a regional transmission organization (PJM), which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in the midwest/east.
Past years saw us place an emphasis on water heater radio-controlled switches, which helped us reduce signifcant peak load in winter months and better stabilize consumers’ bills. Because of Buckeye Power’s migration into a regional transmission organization, we must now control more in the summer than winter. With that in mind, Hancock-Wood is providing greater incentives for AC RCSs, and less on water heater RCSs. This is not to say that water heater RCSs provide no value, but in operating under a different wholesale environment, the shift to AC RCSs will assist us in managing summer peak and thus helping to stabilize consumers’ electric costs.
Since we realize that conditions change, and history repeats itself, we need RCSs on water heaters to remain: both AC and water heater switches help stablize bills!
Switches must remain installed for the life of your unit, and can be installed for free in three different ways:
- Water heaters: Just contact
us to sign up, and we'll schedule a technician to install
the switch for free. You'll then see a $.50 credit on your
bill every month whether we activate it or not.
- AC systems: Allow us
to install a radio-controlled switch to manage your air
conditioning, and receive a four-month (June - Sept.) $5.50
credit whether it’s activated or not. This part of
our program to help control the demand for electricity,
also helps stabilize our price.
- Geothermal systems: We install switches on the AC portion of the geothermal systems to reduce load. Just like our regular central air AC switch program, you will receive a four-month (June-Sept.) $5.50 credit whether it's activated or not.
radio signals are sent
Power computers in Columbus monitor usage around the state
at select substations (Hancock-Wood and its fellow Ohio cooperatives
own Buckeye Power's generating plants). If a potential peak
demand is forecast, a signal is sent from a satellite dish
in Columbus to a satellite orbiting Earth. The satellite relays
the signal back to Earth where a satellite dish at HWE receives
the data. The information triggers our radio equipment to
broadcast signals from a tower at Hancock-Wood. The switches in members'
homes are activated by the signals. As long as the switches
receive the signal, the circuit remains open and no power
flows to the water heater or geothermal unit. When the signals
cease, the switch stops operating, and the equipment comes
back on. It's that simple.
my radio-controlled switch working?
Sometimes we hear from members wanting to know if their switch
has been activated, and it depends on its shape:
- If your radio-controlled switch is square-shaped
(click to display pix), it has a small window on the box.
The red light means that Buckeye Power is controlling the
load and their water heater has been turned off. Any other
time the green light should always be on to indicate that
Buckeye Power is not controlling, your switch is not in
use and it is functioning properly. (Note: if your home
power goes out for any reason, when power is restored the
red light will remain on for 5-10 minutes by default.)
- If your radio-controlled switch is circular-shaped, there is no way to tell if Buckeye Power is controlling
load because you have one of the older model switches. Older
switches operate in the same efficient way as the new model,
but we are in the process of replacing all circular-shaped
switches, and we'll eventually contact you about doing so.
- If your radio-controlled switch has a green and red light, but neither is lit, this is not uncommon and can happen. If this condition lasts for several weeks, let us know, and we may want to come out and test it to ensure that it is still operating properly.
start receiving the monthly credit on your bill
To install your free switch and start saving on
your electric bill:
- Email us by using the Contact
- We’ll then contact you to set up a date/time for
a service rep to visit your home and install the free
- The service rep will then fill out the proper form
in person, and then submit it for processing.