NEEDLES – The Needles Public Utility Authority has announced that it has experienced an average 25% demand increase over the historical 90-days.
The jump is due to a couple of different reasons.
Weather: Since it’s been above 100 degrees and with multiple heat waves that have occurred. Of the past 30 days, 82% of daily 24-hour temperatures exceeded 110 degrees.
Demand: an increase in daily temperatures caused a demand increase on the grid.
COVID-19: Due to the impacts of COVID-19, more families have chosen to stay home which affected residential customer demand without affecting commercial consumption.
According to city staff, during the last 60 days due to COVID, the NPUA has been forced to temporarily computer estimate consumption for all non-cannabis facilities but is conducting actual reads now. Any anomaly or bill that is highly unusual is being reviewed at the customer’s request and nearly all have been adjusted.
“The NPUA strives for fairness in the utility bills and any customers can contact Kim Mitchell in the billing office at 760-326-5700, extension 119 if they have an abnormal bill,” City of Needles Mayor Jeff Williams said.
Assistant Utility Manager Rainie Torrance reported that the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA from which the NPUA purchases power) wholesale power rates are determined by the source marker price and planned or unplanned use. Because of the power shortage statewide the spot market or the daily rate has increased dramatically and is causing many utilities to raise rates in an emergency fashion. The NPUA is diligently power load forecasting planned usage and is buying power three to six months out into the future, thus avoiding the spot market fluctuations. In real numbers, the NPUA is paying $35 per megawatt (MW) for planned power purchases for the next four to five months, while those forced to buy today in the spot market are paying $300-$400 per MW.
“As a reminder WAPA, the NPUA supplier, does not fall under the California Independent System Operator (Cal IES) system which is experiencing serious power shortfalls necessitating rolling blackouts,” said Torrance.
Earlier this week, the Cal IES had a demand of 50,000 MW, but only had 38,000 MW available. This is in part due to the state and some individual utilities disconnecting from coal, gas, nuclear sources and closing “peaker” plants.
“The NPUA Utility Board of Needles residents that advises the city council is considering a further reduction in electric rates from $.0979 to $.0860 for over-hydro at a regular meeting on Sept. 1,” Williams continued. “Despite our planning and good fortune, we all need to conserve our energy to lessen the amount purchased.”
Mayor Williams further reminded residents and businesses to reduce usage between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. by:
• Turning off lights when you’re not in the room;
• Unplugging electronic devices and chargers when they aren’t in use;
• Monitoring your home’s temperature;