Buy-back programs provide more dollar benefits to energy companies’ bottom lines, study finds

ATLANTA, Nov. 12, 2001 — Electricity buy-back or demand-bidding programs — under which utilities pay C&I customers to shed load primarily for economic reasons — are attracting customer participation and positively impacting energy companies’ bottom lines.

In fact, 73% of utilities with buy-back programs that participated in Chartwell’s Fall 2001 survey reported these programs positively affected their bottom line; none reported negative effects. At the same time, curtailable load programs — under which participants are rewarded for curtailing energy use, usually in emergencies, in exchange for credit applied against standard tariffs — while offered by more utilities, have less favorable results. Only 65% report these programs had a positive financial impact while 12% say curtailment programs have actually hurt their bottom line.

Additionally, because of buy-back programs’ greater flexibility and more customer-friendly attributes, these programs attract more customers and thus more megawatts of peak load reduction capability, according to studies conducted by Chartwell and XENERGY and published in a research report released today.

On the residential side, direct load control programs — whereby the utility has the ability to turn off customers’ air-conditioners or water heaters — are gaining in popularity. After a surge in the early 1980s, use of these programs dropped, only to see a revival again in 2000 and going forward. New technologies and new attitudes — utilities are more willing to give customers a say in when and for how long the cycling will take place — make direct load control easier and more effective.

These are among the findings in “The Chartwell Load Management Report,” with end-user analysis from XENERGY, which goes on to reveal that 43.3% of utilities Chartwell surveyed have direct load control programs; of those, 73% say the program has a positively impacts the bottom line.

Chartwell interviewed energy companies regarding specific load management programs for C&I and residential customers, program goals and results, and marketing strategies. These findings are presented in both data/analysis and case study format, complete with advice and lessons learned from those who have real-life experiences to share. Plus, more than 50 vendors with load management products are profiled in this 350+ page, two-volume report.

“The Chartwell Load Management Report,” with end-user analysis from XENERGY, is available for purchase. For more information visit

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