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Shaving Peak Power Costs

Summer heat was expensive for the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Hapeville. On the hottest days of summer, when fluctuating electricity costs were highest, Ford was using tremendous amounts of power to keep the plant cool. Because the utility company had to build enough infrastructure to provide power on those peak days, it was appropriate for them to charge customers for that infrastructure.

But if Ford could somehow reduce the amount of power used on those peak demand days, it could save a lot of money.

An analysis of the cost of engines and generator sets indicated a quick payback if Ford ran them only during peak usage hours on the hottest days. They called it “peak shaving,” and Yancey installed Caterpillar engines and generator sets at the plant. In just over one year, Ford’s savings had already offset the cost of the equipment.

“That was our first big peak shaving project,” Michaell Bever says, “and from there we went to companies that already had standby generators and suggested that they use them for peak shaving. The financial benefit for the customers was huge.”

Soon municipal power companies and EMCs across the state were using Cat® engines and gen sets to meet peak power supply requirements rather than buy power from other utility companies at a premium. Yancey built out a rolling demonstration unit, with a semi-trailer with carpet and lighting. “We went all around showing mayors and city councils what we could do for them,” Michaell recalls.

In the late 1990s stricter air quality controls made the diesel generators less attractive, and demand shrank.

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