What is the Wind Number?
The Wind Number is a measure of clean energy in California’s power supply. The Wind Number varies from hour to hour each day. It reflects changes in demand, varying weather conditions that affect wind and solar energy production, and how natural gas plants crank up to meet overall system demand. The higher the Wind Number, the higher the percentage of available clean energy, and the less it costs.
How is the Wind Number Calculated?
The Wind Number is the ratio of California’s hourly electric power coming from wind divided by fossil fuels, times 100.
How Can the Wind Number Save Me Money?
For years California’s utility companies have been offering new time-of-use (TOU) rates to their residential customers. This pricing structure accounts for the ever-changing cost to produce and deliver electricity to consumers based on overall system-wide demand. Electricity costs more when demand and production costs are high. But, it drops in price when demand goes down and the supply increases. With increasing amounts of supply being delivered on Mother Nature’s schedule, adjusting your demand can save real money each month.
By opting-in to time-of-use pricing with your utility provider, you gain more control over your electric bill. And with today’s smart home technology, (like the delay button on your appliances, or smart thermostats) you can easily reschedule your activities to take advantage of cheaper, cleaner electricity. For example, with the Wind Number, you’ll know when it’s the best time to:
- Run the dishwasher
- Charge your electric car
- Turn on the pool pump
- Optimize the air conditioning for cost as well as comfort
For more information on opting-in to time-of-use rates, subscribe here.
What Does The Wind Number Have to Do with Renewable Energy in California?
Until recently, there have been two major problems with renewable energy: the cost to produce it, and the challenge of integrating variable supply with demand. The good news is that costs are going down. Energy from solar and wind is now comparable in price to the most efficient coal and natural gas power plants. But, we still have the problem of demand. Renewable energy is created on Mother Nature’s schedule, which may or may not coincide with when you flip the switch. That’s why California relies on natural gas power plants to balance renewable energy production, especially when it’s not sunny or windy.
Energy production in California is a complicated business, and we’re simplifying it a bit with the Wind Number. Essentially, the mix of energy produced from wind, solar, and natural-gas powered plants is ever changing, and prices change with it. The system is managed by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO); we monitor the system for you so you can make an informed decision.
The Wind Number illustrates California’s ever-changing energy mix in real-time. When the Wind Number is high, the energy you’re using is cleaner, cheaper, and better for the environment. When it’s down, fossil fuel burning plants are cranking out more pollution.
How Can I Control WHEN I Use Energy?
You might be surprised how easy it is to control when you use energy. Electric vehicles are rapidly increasing electrical demand on the electric power system while they reduce smog and carbon pollution; their charge times are programmable. Own a pool? Your pool pump is also programmable. Appliances usually have a delay button on them, allowing you to control when they run. Here’s one of the easiest ways to save, just install the LEDs we send when you register! They reduce your household’s demand at the precise times of the day when peaker plants are cranking up, and represent one of the best investments you could ever make in terms of savings. There are many more ways to save, and our messaging system covers them all. It’s easy and fun to reduce the impact your energy use has on the environment.
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