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  • Mike Kanarick
    Manager of Customer Care and Communications
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    Burlington Electric Department
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    Burlington, Vt. 05401
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    Burlington Electric Launches Defeat the Peak Program

    Encourages Community to Reduce Energy Usage on Hottest Summer Days to Gain “Triple Bottom Line” Benefits
    BED

    Burlington, VT – The Burlington Electric Department today launched its new Defeat the Peak program, encouraging members of the Burlington community to reduce their energy usage on the hottest – or peak – days of summer 2017. Defeat the Peak is a unique approach to demand reduction that uses the following "triple bottom line" strategy to get customers engaged in the effort:

    • Cost Cutting: Reducing energy usage during peak times cuts utility costs and is part of Burlington Electric's strategy to keep rates low and stable for its customers.
    • Environmental Benefit: When Burlington lowers its peak energy needs, the regional grid requires less energy, which, on hot days, usually comes from polluting oil or natural gas generators in New England.
    • Community Reward: Engaging customers by offering a community dividend is a unique feature of Defeat the Peak. When a "peak day" is announced and Burlington Electric customers hit the targeted amount of load reduction, Burlington Electric will make a $1,000 donation to a local nonprofit serving the greater Burlington community, such as the Humane Society of Chittenden County and Steps to End Domestic Violence. This element of Defeat the Peak makes reducing demand real and tangible for customers – their efforts on peak days provide immediate support back to the community.

    "Defeat the Peak serves as another example of Burlington Electric's ongoing commitment to build a sustainable energy future that supports a growing economy and a thriving community," stated Neale Lunderville, Burlington Electric General Manager. "As Burlington Electric continues to lead through energy innovation, this programis an important component of our efforts to make Burlington a net zero energy city. We are excited to provide this opportunity to further educate our customers about efficiency gains that help keep money in the Burlington community's pocket, while providing a meaningful benefit for local nonprofits."

    Customers have told Burlington Electric that community-based incentives, such as protecting the environment and assisting worthwhile local nonprofit efforts, would have a meaningful impact on their energy behavior – even without direct financial benefit. This is a break from the more traditional cost-based approach to changing behavior in the energy sector and has led Burlington Electric to include nonprofit donations as an incentivizing component of Defeat the Peak. The utility will contribute to local nonprofits only when Burlington is successful in achieving its demand reduction targets on peak days.

    Nancy Cathcart, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Chittenden County, said: "We offer our sincere thanks to Burlington Electric for incorporating charitable giving into its new energy efficiency program. We hope Burlingtonians are even more inclined to reduce their energy usage and protect our planet by knowing that, at the same time, they would be providing much-needed funding to help foster compassionate treatment of animals and prevent animal suffering."

    Reducing energy usage during the peak hour this summer will result in utility savings as 2018 expenses are set based upon the prior year's peak hour. Typically, the peak hour occurs during a weekday afternoon on a hot, humid summer day and is preceded by consecutive days of high temperatures and humidity. A great deal of this peak is driven by air conditioning being used in homes, workplaces, schools, and other facilities. While predicting the peak is challenging due to the variable nature of the weather, Burlington Electric has a track record of successfully targeting the peak hour through the use of load forecasting tools and will broadcast electricity usage requests to its customers the day before and during predicted peak days.

    Burlington Electric will be using social media and print communications channels to inform its customers of upcoming peak days and to engage as many Defeat the Peak participants as possible. The utility also is inviting its customers to sign up to receive email notifications the night before expected peak load events. Customers can sign up for these notifications, view a video explaining Defeat the Peak, and learn more about the program by visiting burlingtonelectric.com/peak.

    Specific steps Burlington Electric customers may take to reduce electricity consumption during peak days include:

    • Raising the thermostat or turning off their air conditioners, especially when not inside the building being cooled;
    • Waiting until the late evening hours to run their dishwashers and washing machines;
    • Turning off non-essential lights; and
    • Changing light bulbs to LEDs, powering off computers and other devices when not using them, using power strips, and unplugging unused chargers (all steps that will reduce energy consumption and save money all year long).

    Burlington Electric is part of the much larger electrical grid that is orchestrated by Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE). ISO-NE manages the electric grid with a goal of ensuring resiliency, even under extreme conditions. As part of this process, ISO-NE sets energy prices in an equitable manner by assigning costs based on the share of each utility's contribution to the previous year's highest hour of electricity consumed on the New England system. With approximately 15 percent of its annual power supply expenses allocated toward the peak hour, Burlington Electric has a great opportunity to save resources by reducing peak hour electricity usage.

    "I appreciate the innovative programs Burlington Electric continues to bring to our community," said Jennifer Green, Burlington's Sustainability Coordinator and City resident. "I look forward to making a focused effort to reduce my electricity usage this summer when I get the go-ahead from BED that a peak day is coming. We all must do our part to make Burlington, the State of Vermont, and our world a greener, better place for future generations."