March 1, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

Complete Canadian News World

Hydro is struggling to convince its customers to turn down the heat during extreme cold

Hydro is struggling to convince its customers to turn down the heat during extreme cold

Even by offering them money, Hydro-Québec has a hard time convincing its customers to reduce their consumption during extreme cold.

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Last year, Hydro sent emails to about 2.1 million residential customers to encourage them to sign up for its “dynamic pricing” offers. Only 62,500 of them agreed to do so, representing a low membership rate of 3%.

Adding customers already registered, approximately 228,000 households participated in dynamic pricing last winter, or slightly more than 5.4% of Quebec’s approximately 4.2 million residential customers.

Dynamic pricing allows consumers to get discounts when they reduce their consumption during morning and evening peak periods associated with extreme cold.

Last year, average annual savings reached $27 per customer for the “Winter Credit” program (without the risk of an increase in their bill if they don’t participate) and $114 per customer for the “Flex” program (which could lead to an increase in the bill if they don’t participate).

“In Quebec, asking people to pay attention to their consumption during winter peak periods is still very new,” said Sabrina Harbeck, one of the people responsible for dynamic pricing at Hydro-Québec, to explain the difficulties in recruiting participants.

Not automatic

Jean-Pierre Finet, spokesman for the Regroupement des organisms Environnemental en Énergie, believes Hydro should offer winter discounts to all its customers.

“Since there is no risk, why don’t we automatically enroll all hydro customers in the winter credit program? He asks. We all have smart meters, so Hydro-Québec can know who contributed and when. There are people who can get money from Hydro if they register in the program, but get nothing for their efforts because they didn’t send their email address to register.

At Hydro’s request, tens of thousands of customers will voluntarily reduce their usage during the extreme cold. By some estimates, more than 300 megawatts can be saved per peak event.

Last winter, dynamic pricing allowed Hydro-Québec to obtain an average peak reduction of 206 megawatts (MW). For their part, nearly 20,000 subscribers to Hilo’s home automation services have reduced their consumption by a maximum of 63 MW.

The odds?

For independent energy analyst Jean-Francois Blain, dynamic pricing is unfair on a socio-economic level because it favors whoever benefits the most.

Mr. Blain estimated that “there may be about 40% of households that don’t even have the convenience of participating” because their homes are not adequately insulated.

This winter, Hydro expects 300,000 Quebec households to participate in dynamic pricing.

“This is a really big step,” says Mme Harbeck noted that meeting this year’s goal will be “a little difficult.”

To put all the odds on its side, the government-owned firm launched last month, Advertising campaign It features a Louis-Jean Cormier song, All at the same time.

Recall that the CEO of Hydro-Québec, Michel Sabia, will appear today before the elected representatives of the National Assembly to defend his 2035 action plan, which focuses heavily on energy efficiency.

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