As Vermonters Try to Stay Cool, Many Eye Power Conservation to Save Cash

Utilities asked customers to delay certain tasks, like running the dishwasher, to reduce electricity use at peak times

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Vermonters were urged to conserve electricity during this week's sweltering heat — with a goal to save their fellow ratepayers money long-term.

The Vermont Electric Co-op was among the utilities asking ratepayers to make slight adjustments to their routines on these ultra-hot days, especially from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, when power usage is predicted to spike regionally.

Andrea Cohen of the nonprofit co-op said people should still run their fans, air conditioning and necessities to stay safe and healthy, but she urged them to consider delaying doing laundry, using the dishwasher or charging electric cars.

Energy demand on extreme days can influence prices for bulk power for the whole year, so trimming power consumption now could save cash down the line, Cohen said.

"It's so worth it, because we're connected to the whole New England grid," Cohen observed. "So when things get really this hot, the electricity — when there's a peak event — things get really expensive. So the more we can reduce usage now, the more we can bring system costs down for all of our members."

The Burlington Electric Department also urged city residents to join the effort to "defeat the peak," as it called it, to avoid costly rate increases.

A different utility, Green Mountain Power, has an innovative strategy to reduce consumption at peak times.

GMP manages a network of batteries — many in customers' homes. It charges the batteries at off-peak times then draws down the stored energy during peak periods to alleviate pressure on the grid.

Doing so led to about $3 million in savings last year, according to GMP spokeswoman Kristin Kelly. Kelly said the approach also reduces carbon emissions by cutting the need to fire up electricity-generating plants at peak times — when they are most likely to burn fossil fuels.

While utilities focused on energy consumption, Vermonters tried to stay cool as the state sweated through a heat wave.

On the Lamoille River in Cambridge, traveler Christina Cadorette appreciated the gentle breeze off the water while she was out kayaking with gear rented from Vermont Canoe & Kayak in Jeffersonville.

"We're excited to be out, so it'll be good," Cadorette said, adding that she didn't find Tuesday's heat and humidity oppressive. "No, not too hot — Connecticut's a little bit hotter."

Others on canoe and kayak tours of the river found shade or splashed each other to stay cool.

In Winooski, Diana Rich was grateful for the city's new municipal pool, which opened for the first time this month — several years after the old one closed for renovations.

"I've actually been coming here a lot," Rich said of the new Myers Memorial Pool.

The opening came just in time to help endure this weather, and is allowing Winooski families like Rich's to keep the summer heat in perspective.

"It's something to look forward to," Rich told NECN and NBC10 Boston. "Winter's long. Winter's cold. So on these hot days, it's nice to be able to come here."

Try to remember that next January.

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