Power Watch Program

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Power Watch - An information and action program

The Power Watch Gauge

Power Watch is an energy information and call-to-action program that uses a thermometer, gauge, and colors to explain to our customers the correlation between temperature and electricity usage. The gauge is divided into different colored quadrants, each color corresponding to a different Power Watch level (see below).

You will notice that as the demand for electricity rises, in most cases so does the temperature. You will also notice that as the demand increases, Power Watch moves through the different colors: green, blue, yellow and red. Each color carries with it a specific set of energy conservation action steps that allow each of us to help lower the demand for electricity. Keep an eye on the Power Watch Gauge and try to follow the recommended action steps. Remember, effective energy conservation is good for your utility, good for Ames, and good for you.

Peak Alert Information Questions and Answers


0-99 MW Awareness (Condition Green)

The power plant can easily handle this load. Normal energy conservation practices are in place here.
  • Perform a home energy audit to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Plant shade trees
  • Insulate your home
  • Educate yourself about energy conservation
100-114 MW Preparedness (Condition blue)

The demand for power is rising. Be prepared to take actions aimed at saving energy.
    • Think about what you can do to conserve energy. Try to identify areas to reduce electricity usage
    • Keep your furnace filters clean
    • Caulk and weather strip windows and doors
    • Seal air leaks in your home's ducts
    • Use compact fluorescent bulbs. They save 70%, give the same light, and use the same socket
    • Visit the library for books on energy conservation. Or check out our Web page for how to conserve with home appliances
    • Call the Energy Guy at 515-239-5177 with your energy questions
    115-124 MW Watch (Condition yellow)

    The demand for power on the system is high and reductions may be necessary. Do what you can to reduce your electricity usage and save energy.
      • Wash clothes with cold water and line-dry your clothes, if possible
      • Use electrical appliances in the early morning or evening
      • Turn your thermostat up 5 degrees
      • Use fans instead of air conditioning to stay cool
      • Reduce the number of times you open and close your exterior doors
      125 MW
      Very high electricity costs
      Alert (Condition red)

      This is a Peak Alert where load control (Prime Time Power) is initiated. System load has climbed to a level that requires immediate action to reduce demand, or the cost for electricity is prohibitively high.
        • Turn off any unnecessary electric devices
        • Keep your refrigerator door closed
        • Close drapes and use blinds to block out the daytime sun
        • Close air registers and doors in rooms not being used
        • Avoid cooking with the oven
        • Monitor local radio for Peak Alert information
        • Check the City of Ames Electric Services Web page for Peak Alert info

        Commonly Asked Questions and Answers

        What is Power Watch?

        • Power Watch is an energy program that will raise awareness of electric issues and may keep our electric rates low. It focuses on communication, education and action steps to help Ames become more energy-wise.

          In addition to normal seasonal energy messages, Power Watch will use the demand for electricity to provide more timely and meaningful energy messages.

        • As the community of Ames grows, it demands more electricity. The City of Ames Electric Services stands ready to provide Ames with all the electricity needed, but as the demand goes up, especially on hot summer days, power plant resources are taxed. Other sources for electricity may have to be found. Providing additional power becomes more expensive. Helping reduce the amount of electricity you use can help keep rates low and reduce your bill.

          Power Watch is a program that keeps an eye on the demand for electricity and provides conservation information and action steps appropriate for the level of demand. Power Watch uses four colors, or levels, to impart energy messages to the community. These energy conservation messages and actions change as the demand for electricity rises through the four levels of Power Watch. The information is categorized by the demand level for electricity and is listed below. As the demand for electricity rises, Power Watch makes suggestions that, if followed, will save increasing amounts of electricity. In addition to this web page, you can also call 239-5180 for Power Watch updates.

        Why is Power Watch needed?

        The City of Ames is growing. Electric Services is capable of providing all the electricity required by the community. However, when demand increases, so does the cost of production.

        In spite of growth over the past 30 years, our rate in Ames is significantly lower than neighboring utilities. Keeping the electric demand down will reduce the need to purchase expensive capacity, and over time should help keep our rates low. In addition, the greater the demand for electricity, the greater the impact on our natural resources and our environment.

        Keeping the system peak down is not only economically desirable, but environmentally prudent.

        How does it work?

        Power Watch continuously monitors the weather and demand for electricity. Based on these factors, energy management messages are matched so they provide the best information and recommendations needed at the time.

        How will I know what to do?

        Power Watch will tell you when to curb electric usage. We’ll keep you informed about electric usage through various means, including the following:
        • Peak alert information Web page
        • City Side - The monthly newsletter mailed with your utility bill includes Power Lines for Electric Services news.
        • TV12 - TV shows on the government access channel will feature Power Watch programs during yellow and red conditions.
        • KASI 1430 - Peak alert announcements will be made on this local radio station.
        • 24-hour phone message: 515-239-5180. Call anytime to get information on current conditions and recommendations for action.

        How else can I help?

        Sign up for Prime Time Power, the Electric Services residential central air conditioner program. You will help keep the demand down for electricity and receive a $5 credit on each of the four summer utility bills.

        How will Power Watch benefit Ames?

        Power Watch will:

        • Help keep rates low.
        • Provide education on energy conservation and management issues.
        • Encourage community involvement.
        • Encourage more individual control over electricity usage and ultimate costs.
        • Give real-time information on system demand and reduction impacts.
        • Allowing more community control over electricity usage and ultimate costs.
        • Improve communications between Electric Services and Ames citizens.
        • Provide early warning information for peak alerts.
        • Make it easier for the customer to manage energy conservation.
        • Help you reduce your energy bills.
        • Reduce power plant fuel consumption and lower emissions.

        Did You Know?

        • You can perform your own home energy audit. Improve your home’s efficiency. Call 515-239-5177 for a free audit packet.
        • Running your air conditioner in the morning to clear humidity can make you more comfortable and may save you energy later in the day.
        • Compact fluorescent bulbs use 70% less energy and provide the same amount of light.
        • Pilot lights can account for up to 50% of the annual energy consumption on a gas range.
        • All air conditioners have a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). A high SEER means it's more efficient.
        • Windows and doors account for about 15% of home air leakage. Holes into the attic and the top of the foundation are the greatest sources.
        • You can save 1-2% on your energy bills by using foam gaskets on all exterior outlets and switches.
        • Peeking into your oven when you're cooking can lower the temperature as much as 25 degrees each time you open the door.


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