MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Santee Cooper customers can enroll in a new program that would allow the electric company to turn their thermostats and electric water heaters on and off briefly during peak electricity events.
The program, called SmartRewards, gives customers up to $100 in bill credits the first year and up to $50 in credits for subsequent years.
“SmartRewards is a demand response program that enables us to partner with you — our customers — to maintain reliability during periods of high demand or system constraints, manage electricity costs, and reduce carbon emissions,” according to the Santee Cooper website.
Customers who sign up for the program will have a small switch installed near their central HVAC controls and/or their electric water heater, which would allow Santee Cooper to “cycle the equipment periodically off and on for short durations during a period of no more than four hours to temporarily reduce demand.”
Customers who sign up for central HVAC and electric water heater switches will receive a $50 bill credit after the switch is installed and another $50 annual bill credit. Those who only add a switch for an electric water heater will earn a $20 credit when the switch is installed and a $15 annual credit. For central HVAC, the bill credit is $30 upon installation and $25 annually.
The program is only open to those in single-family homes. Those in multi-family homes, such as apartments, are not eligible for the program, according to Santee Cooper. Pre-pay program customers are also ineligible.
Santee Cooper defines an event as a time “when there’s a particularly high demand for electricity or if there are major issues with the electric system that could affect the production, transmission and/or distribution of power.”
Events could occur between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. from June through September and between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. from December through March. Events would not occur on weekends or on holidays, unless there’s a system emergency.
The switch would contain a light that would notify an event was taking place, and residents could opt out of the event, but bill credits would be forfeited for customers who opt out of more than two events per season.
Santee Cooper said temperature changes in homes during events would be minimized, and existing water in hot water tanks would be available to use.
Customers who would like to enroll in the program can visit the Santee Cooper website for more information.