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Customers turned on to turn-off program
Voluntary effort cuts AC use in peak hours
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Forsyth County News
It’s a question area power companies have asked for years.

If the air conditioner in a home went off for 10 minutes at 4 p.m., would the homeowners even notice? Apparently not.

In fact, about 28,000 Sawnee EMC customers have agreed to a program that automatically does just that.

Called the load management switch, the device is attached to an air-conditioning unit, allowing the power company to shut off the unit during peak use times.

Sawnee EMC staff can chose to activate it for up to 10 minutes every 30 minutes between 3 and 7 p.m., though spokesman Blake House said they've done so just twice this year.

The program is limited to June, July and August. Homeowners who sign up before June get a sign-up bonus of about $10, House said.

“Plus you get a $12 credit on your June, July and August bill for each switch that you have," he said. “Any money that we save saves everybody, because we're owned by our members."

Georgia Power customers can volunteer for a similar program, which includes a $20 sign-up bonus for a 12-month contract.

Georgia Power switches can turn off for a limited number of minutes between noon and 7 p.m. on weekdays from May to September.

“If you’re not home during the day, you won’t even notice it’s on,” said David Seago, Georgia Power spokesman. “There’s no guarantee it decreases their electric bills. However, during certain times of the day, you’re going to use less power.

“They’ve really got to manage the total time that they’re using electricity and not just the time that their air conditioning is off. But if they can manage the rest of their usage very well, it certainly can save them some money on their electric bill.”

Both power companies operate their switch programs on a volunteer basis, though some customers may unknowingly be enrolled if the previous homeowner had the switch installed.

Both companies say they can accommodate residents who want the switch removed. If a homeowner decides to stop the program, House said, “All you have to do is say come take my switch off.”

Seago said many customers are weathering warmer temperatures to save money, regardless of whether they use the switch program.

“This is just one of the tools that helps our system and gives you an opportunity to manage your use a little bit too,” he said.

“In this day and time, I think people are trying to save money in a lot of ways, and I suspect everybody’s tolerance level has probably gone up in order to save money.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at