Danville Utilities customers advised to conserve power now to potentially save later

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DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - Danville Utilities is once again asking its customers to conserve power.

This is the second week in a row customers have been asked to conserve multiple days.

Until 6 p.m. Thursday, Danville Utilities is asking customers to do whatever they can to reduce the amount of electricity they use.

"Set the thermostat up a couple of degrees, that's going to help," said Megan Baker, Danville Utilities' key accounts manager. "Using large appliances in your house, like your washing machine or your dishwasher, just use those outside of those hours."

Helena Stephens, a Danville Utilities customer, says she does what she can to conserve.

"We keep everything unplugged that we don't need," Stephens explained.

Businesses, too, like the wastewater treatment plant, take extra steps to conserve power whenever Danville Utilities requests that customers conserve.

The plant shuts off its 350-horsepower blower that supplies the oxygen to the bacteria that break down the waste.

"This drastically reduces our power consumption," said Jerry Shoupe, the plant's project manager.

Shoupe said shutting the blower off from 3-6 p.m., the hours customers are asked to conserve, doesn't have any major effect on the plant's operation. But, if the conservation time was extended, for example for a whole day, the plant would have to divert a portion of the waste that comes in into a holding basin.

Danville Utilities buys its power from a third-party and the rate the third-party charges Danville for power each year is based on the five highest peak power usage periods from June through September of the previous year.

The more power that is used, the more Danville Utilities will have to pay for power next year, which could mean more rate increases.

"We have to cover those costs somehow, so if that would be through a rate increase sometime down the road then that would be something we'd have to do," Baker said.

Some customers say the current rates are already a struggle.

"They're a little too high. It makes it hard to turn the air conditioner on because it will run the light bill up too high," explained Eugene Thomas.

"It puts a lot of stress on a lot of people, especially if you're single. It's very hard. Even if you're with someone, it's very hard," Stephens stressed.

Baker says it's too early to tell right now if rates may increase because of this year's power consumption.

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