Coast Electric Power Association (Coast) was organized in 1939 through a merger of two electric cooperatives (Hancock Electric and Gulf Coast Electric) in South Mississippi. We provide power to almost 79,000 rural Mississippians in Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River Counties. Our mission is "to provide our member/owners superior service and dependable electricity at the lowest possible price, and to improve the economy and quality of life in our community."
Coast first began offering a Time of Use (TOU) rate in June of 2009 as an option for members to use to help control their electric bill. Implementation of this type of rate design prior to 2009 was not beneficial as our energy provider, South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA), did not have a wholesale time of use rate program in effect. The goal of a TOU rate is to reduce coincident peak demand (billed demand) thereby reducing cost of purchased power. Another benefit of a successful TOU rate is that generation capacity is reduced; therefore, future capacity additions are delayed or eliminated. Using rates as an incentive/deterrent creates a voluntary, member controlled demand management program instead of a utility controlled program. A time of use rate also creates a voluntary demand management program instead of one being forced on the consumers by the utility. Consumers are able to choose whether to pay the higher cost of energy during peak times or defer using energy when there is less demand on the generation resources. From a consumers perspective managing their electric bill on a TOU rate is as simple as changing the time they heat their water, wash dishes and wash and dry clothes. Some may even choose to be more aggressive and alter when they heat and cool their home.
The rollout of our TOU program was slow as special meters had to be individually programmed to capture the necessary data. Also Coast was still manually reading meters so people had to be trained to recognize which meters were TOU as well as how to interpret the data. Another deterrent to the early TOU program was the design itself. The peak time in the wholesale rate from SMEPA was very broad to cover all possible peaking times (table 1) and the rate differential was not significant enough to encourage participation. By the end of April 2010 (pre-award) only 65 members were participating in the program.