Lake Crystal beats summer peak loads with energy-saving competition

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Beat the Peak with Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities

Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities started with the goal of helping customers become more energy aware and lower their power bills by using energy more efficiently and reducing the energy consumed during peak usage periods.

On top of that, the utility wanted to:

  1. Engage Lake Crystal customers and the community in efforts to provide safer, more dependable, and less costly energy

  2. Improve the energy consumption habits of their customers

  3. Reduce the costs (economically and environmentally) of transmission and consumption of electricity in Lake Crystal, specifically during periods of peak demand

In order to accomplish these goals, the utility teamed up with the Lake Crystal GreenStep City Committee and Heartland Consumers Power District to develop the Beat the Peak Program.
 

The program includes:

  • Education on the importance of energy conservation
  • A voluntary, free home energy audit from a LCMU staff member to identify no cost/low cost ways to reduce overall energy consumption
  • Free enrollment in LCMU’s load management program and installation of load management equipment, which automatically reduces energy consumption and peak load demand
  • Notification of peak energy usage events; and a half-penny credit per kWh of usage on their monthly utility bill
  • And—the most significant part of the program—the Beat the Peak competition.

The competition aimed to reduce the cost of electricity and return those savings to participants in the form of cash prizes. Participants in the competition would score points by promoting the competition (Facebook posts, shares, likes, etc., letters to the editor, and referrals), responding to text and email alerts, and applying for a CIP rebate through LCMU. The top three point scorers each month (June, July, and August) would receive cash prizes. Participants could also “sponsor” a local school, church or non-profit organization. The points each individual scored were attributed to the team they sponsored and, at the end of the competition, the organization (team) with the most points attributed to them received a donation from LCMU. Learn more in a presentation from the utility.

The program also included public outreach to all residents and customers. In April and May of 2016, the entire City of Lake Crystal was canvassed and provided information on how to save on Summer electricity bills. Presentations were also provided to local churches and organizations. The public outreach resulted in coverage from the Lake Crystal Tribune, Mankato Free Press, KEYC TV, and Mankato Times.

“The program garnered quite a bit of attention in the community, as well as from local and regional media outlets,” notes Taylor Gronau, City Administrator. “We believe the program created a community conversation on the drivers behind LCMU’s power costs and the impact of decreasing peak load demand. As a result of the program, LCMU saw a recognizable drop in the utility’s peak load demand over the summer months. LCMU will continue to fund and operate the program in 2017.”
 

Project Snapshot

  • Project: Energy conservation education, free home energy audits to identify low/no-cost ways to reduce energy use, free installation of equipment and participation in the utility’s load management program, and a competition with savings being returned to the community.
  • Location: Lake Crystal, MN
  • Activity: Implementation, Outreach
  • Technology: Low/no-cost upgrades, behavior change
  • Benefits: Raise energy awareness and lower customer power bills through a fun activity with the utility
  • Total Project Cost: $29,332.75
  • Southeast CERT Seed Grant: $1,428.75
  • Annual Energy Savings: 32,004 kWh
  • People Involved: 19
  • People Reached: 1,575
     


CERTs awards seed grants to community groups for energy efficiency and clean energy projects across Minnesota. We’ve awarded over $1 million in Seed Grants since 2006. Click here to see more Seed Grant blog posts or click here to see more past funded projects.

CERTs Seed Grants

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Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission