Hydro is struggling to convince customers to reduce heating during extreme cold

Even if Hydro-Québec offers them money, it has great difficulty convincing its customers to reduce their consumption in extreme cold.

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Last year, Hydro sent emails to nearly 2.1 million residential customers encouraging them to sign up for its “dynamic pricing” offers. Almost 62,500 of them agreed, which corresponds to a meager membership rate of 3%.

By adding already registered customers, around 228,000 households took part in dynamic pricing last winter, or just over 5.4% of the approximately 4.2 million residential customers in Quebec.

Dynamic pricing allows customers to receive discounts if they reduce their consumption during morning and evening peak periods due to extreme cold.

Last year, the average annual savings was $27 per customer for the “Winter Credit” program (without the risk of a bill increase in the event of non-participation) and $114 per customer for the “Flex” program (which results in can). an increase in the bill if you do not attend).

“In Quebec, asking people to pay attention to their consumption during peak winter periods is still quite new,” says Sabrina Harbec, one of the dynamic pricing managers at Hydro-Québec, explaining the difficulty of recruiting participants.

Not automatically

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

Hydro is struggling to convince customers to reduce heating during extreme cold

Jean-Pierre Finet photo from LinkedIn

“Since there is no risk, why don’t we automatically enroll all Hydro customers in the winter loan program? he asks. We all have smart meters so Hydro-Québec knows who contributed and when. There are people who could receive an amount from Hydro if they were registered in the program, but receive nothing for their efforts because they did not provide their email address To.

It must be said that tens of thousands of customers voluntarily reduce their consumption in extreme cold at Hydro’s request. It is estimated that more than 300 megawatts will be saved per peak event.

Last winter, Hydro-Québec saved an average of 206 megawatts (MW) per peak capacity thanks to dynamic pricing. For their part, Hilo’s approximately 20,000 subscribers to home automation services reduced their consumption by 63 MW per peak.

Unfair?

For independent energy analyst Jean-François Blain, dynamic pricing is rather unfair at a socioeconomic level, as the better-off are most likely to benefit from it.

“There are probably about 40% of households that don’t even have the luxury of being able to participate” because their homes are not adequately insulated, Blain estimates.

Hydro hopes 300,000 Quebec households will participate in dynamic pricing this winter.

“It’s really a big step,” says Ms Harbec, who acknowledges it will be “a little more difficult” to achieve the target this year.

To get all the odds on its side, the state-owned company launched an advertising campaign last month featuring the song “Everyone at the Same Time” by Louis-Jean Cormier.

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

Dynamic pricing in a nutshell

  • Membership last winter: 228,000
  • Average savings: $27 (winter credit) and $114 (flex rate)
  • Average consumption reduction per customer during a peak event: 0.9 kilowatts

Hilo coming soon

  • Number of participants last winter: 20,000
  • Average savings: $140
  • Average consumption reduction per customer during a peak event: 3.1 kilowatts

Source: Hydro-Québec

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