As a member of West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC), we want you to understand how your cooperative’s electric rates are determined and set. One of the most important factors affecting your rates is demand -- the collective “appetite” of WFEC and its members for electricity at a specific point in time.
Put simply, demand is how hungry our cooperative is for power: right now, years down the road or at any point in between. It represents how much power WFEC requires to keep the lights on 24/7/365. It can change depending on the season, the time of day, or a host of other factors. For example, WFEC experiences its highest – or “peak” – demand on cold winter mornings, when the most people are using electricity.
WFEC purchases electricity from its wholesale power supplier, PowerSouth, a generation & transmission cooperative that serves the power needs of its 20 members. Every year, PowerSouth’s system planning department works with each member, including WFEC, to determine PowerSouth’s total system load, meaning the demand for electricity across the entire system.
Imagine being in charge of planning an event like a birthday party, awards banquet or wedding reception. It’s important to know how many people will be attending so that you’ll know how much food to serve. Too much, and you’re wasting money; too little, and your guests go home disappointed. You’d much rather have your guests remembering what a good time they had and not how hungry they were when it was all over – and you’d want to accomplish this without breaking the bank. That is PowerSouth and WFEC’s primary mission: safely providing reliable and affordable power to their respective members.
The energy experts at WFEC and PowerSouth meet each year and estimate how much power WFEC will need for the year. Remember how demand is WFEC’s and its members’ collective hunger for power? Well, the experts work to predict future appetite. The prediction is based on a number of factors, including:
• Historical load (how much has been needed previously)
• Potential growth including new subdivisions, businesses, and industries
• Potential exit of large loads including subdivisions, businesses, and industries
• General population growth or decline
• Economic data
• Weather patterns
PowerSouth inputs this data into a computer model that helps determine future system demand. Forecasting demand is a science and an art at the same time. As technology evolves and the needs of its members grow, PowerSouth and WFEC are prepared to meet growing demand through forward-looking energy and load forecasts. PowerSouth and WFEC will continue working together to determine how “hungry” WFEC’s members are for power while striving to maintain a reliable electric distribution system with affordable rates for WFEC members.