An unseasonably cold and wet November produced an all-new record peak for any November in NIPCO's history, thanks to higher-than-anticipated electric heat and crop-drying in western Iowa. The 2019 November peak, registered at 248.54 megawatts (MW), topped the previously held record of 246.66 MW, set in November of 2013.
NIPCO forecasts how much electricity we anticipate our members need to power the homes, farms, and businesses in their service territories, and history plays a big part in determining how much electricity NIPCO needs to purchase in order to keep the lights on in western Iowa. That is where the terms “consumption” and “demand” come in.
Consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Demand is measured in kilowatts (kW). A lightbulb “consumes” a certain number of watts, let’s say 100 watts per hour. If that lightbulb stays on for 10 hours, it “consumes” a certain number of kilowatt-hours (in this case, 1 kWh) from the generation station producing electricity. Now, if a user turns on ten, 100-watt lightbulbs in a home for one hour, the same number of kWh is being consumed. However, the demand is placed on the utility to have those kWh available to that user over the course of one hour, instead of ten. This requires the generation and transmission plant to produce more power in less time in order to meet demand.
Energy & Demand Explained
Peak demand refers to the time of day when the demand for electricity is highest. This is typically during the early morning, before work or school, and during the evening when families return home, cook dinner and use appliances the most. For more information, watch this video from Basin Electric Power Cooperative.
In the case of November of 2019, extreme cold and wet conditions pushed peak demand to its highest level, to date. Using electricity during this peak demand period often costs more to both NIPCO, NIPCO's member electric cooperatives and to their consumer-members.
As the winter months continue, predictions are for colder than average temperatures to impact NIPCO's territory. Rest assured, NIPCO will always meet the necessary demand to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to the members we serve.