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Cold winter’s impact on MED customers will continue in April bills

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MASSENA - It may say spring on the calendar, but the temperatures and weather conditions still are a strong reminder of the winter that has driven power usage to record levels this season.

Massena Electric Department Treasurer Jeffrey M. Dobbins said multiple February records were broken by the utility last month.

“February was another cold month with higher than normal power costs due to increases in the temperature peak demand for February and megawatt hours purchased. As you look on the graph, the power costs were right around $1,250,000. Typically, if you look at that bandwidth there for the past five years, it’s between $750,000 and $1,000,000, and that $1,250,000 was $250,000 more than last February, which was the previous high that we saw in the month of February,” Mr. Dobbins said.

“The increase in cost was higher than normal usage of peak demand and the supplemental energy rate was at $66 per megawatt hour. Last year it was $52 for February.”

Peak usages are based on one hour averages, and the MED treasurer added that a peak demand total of 44 megawatts on Feb. 12 was a new high mark for the municipal system in Massena.

“(This figure) was 200 kilowatts or .2 megawatts higher than the previous high which was 43.8 set last February. ... The megawatt hours purchased totaled 23,000 - also a new record for February. We ended up purchasing 11,050 megawatt hours of supplemental energy, which accounted for about 48 percent of the total needs of the system during February,” Mr. Dobbins said. “This is 800 megawatt hours more than what is typical.”

Even though these numbers were out of the norm, the load factor for the month was surprisingly low according to Mr. Dobbins. The load factor is related to the amount of electricity used and is calculated by dividing the average load by the maximum load in a given time period.

“The load factor was actually still very good. It was 78 percent, and I’ve looked at it a couple of times - typically February can be tough if you get a real cold stretch and we’ve also only got 28 days - but looking at the rest of the month, the usage stayed high because it was a very cold month. The average temperature was 15 and the average low was only 6 degrees so that’s why the load factor ended up being so good,” he said.

Mr. Dobbins also explained how these numbers may impact customers upcoming electric bills. “These will be reflected on the (purchased power adjustment charge) in April. Typically it’s between 2.5 and 3 cents for PPAC but with such a high number - with the $66 in supplemental - it’s going to be about 4 cents. So less than what the bills are going out this month with, which is a little over 6 cents, but still higher than what the normal amount is.”

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