High Temps, High Prices
"The day before yesterday I didn't know if my air conditioning was working correctly, so, but it was, it was just getting so hot I needed to turn it down more," said Columbia resident, Cynthia Anderson.
Anderson's situation makes it easy to see what makes this day difficult for Columbia Water and Light.
"Because if everyone's thinking like I am, they've turned down their air conditioner to stay on," said Anderson.
Many residents seem to be on the same page, which is why water and light asked Columbians to curb their use of electricity today between noon and 7 p.m.
"That will help our peak demand from getting too high and avoid millions of extra dollars that Columbia Water and Light has to pay for energy," said Connie Kacprowicz of Columbia Water and Light.
When city officials can purchase wholesale energy in advance, it runs about $40 per megawatt hour, which goes a long way. However, when they have to scramble for extra on a hot afternoon, it can run as high as $150 or more.
"For a little while yesterday afternoon, we saw those prices as high as $300 a megawatt hour," said Kacprowicz."Because we are a municipally owned utility, our rates are what pay those bills."
For folks like Anderson, who is between jobs for another week, prices were high enough already.
"Last month I had them come back and re-read my meter because it was so high. And it was correct, and I was like 'whoa'," said Anderson.
Anderson took the city's advice, unplugging appliances and pulling shades to keep out heat, hoping to keep the meter from spinning out of control. A Columbia Water and Light official says they do not know how much extra residents might have to pay, if any, on their next bill.
From Columbia Water and Light, here are a few things Columbians can do during peak usage hours to keep electric rates low:
Set thermostats to 78 degrees and turn up the thermostat to 82 degrees when the building is unoccupied.
Close window shades that receive direct sunlight.
Delay doing laundry.
Postpone using automatic dishwashers and dehumidifiers.
Avoid heating up the kitchen by grilling, using the microwave, or preparing a cool meal.
Check and change the air conditioning/furnace filter so the unit can run efficiently.