- Florida regulators have allowed Tampa Electric to end a 35 year-old demand response program aimed at large energy-using devices like air conditioners and water heaters.
- Begun in 1981, the "Prime Time" program paid customers a credit for direct load control of large energy-using devices.
- The Public Service Commission agreed in 2005 that the program was no longer cost-effective, but directed the utility to continue offering the program to enrolled customers,.
Florida regulators will allow Tampa Electric to end its "Prime Time" direct load control program, a decision that highlights just how long demand response has been around and how difficult it can be to end a utility program.
The Tampa Bay Times has the full history of the program, and TECO's bid to end it. The demand response offering was launched in 1981, but in 2005 regulators agreed it was no longer cost effective and agreed to let the utility phase out the program. Through attrition, the program was supposed to lose about 120 customers per month.
Last week the PSC agreed to let TECO remove the final 19,000 customers from the program. They were receiving about $120 in annual credits, but the utility believes ending the demand response program will save all of 700,000 of its customers money.
While those residential customers will lose an average of $120 in annual credits on their electric bill, TECO said eliminating the program will save $4 million in costs borne by all 700,000 if its ratepayers.
The program was rarely used — just one event was called in the last five years.
"Through our forecasting and planning efforts, we have not had the need for service interruption and do not anticipate the need," a spokesperson told the Times.