WANTAGE-Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative (SREC) members will soon be asked to make a few simple changes in their daily routines that will help keep their electric rates low. SREC recently launched a peak alert program which will consist of recorded advertisements on WSUS 102.3 FM asking users to schedule some electrical appliances to run at off-peak times, either early in the morning or at night. Members can participate by running dishwashers and doing laundry at off-peak times and running pool filters mostly at night. During peak alerts, members are also urged to either raise air conditioning to 78 degrees or use fans instead. Jaci Teune, marketing manager for the cooperative, said the program was begun three years ago by the cooperative's supplier, Continental Cooperative Services of Harrisburg, Pa. The supplier switched to a new billing method in which rates are set based on a cooperative's five summer peak usage points. In creating the peak alert program, the cooperatives can better spread out usage to reduce peak loads. "The idea was to get member cooperatives and their members a way to move or shift their consumption," Teune said. The program is designed mainly to shift use of energy, rather than conserve. Thirteen cooperatives in Pennsylvania already had peak alert programs when SREC adopted the program. On days when peak usage is anticipated, the supplier calls and e-mails each cooperative. So far this summer that hasn't happened, but last summer the program was implemented thirty-three times. During the summer of 2002 there were only five peak alert days. Teune said the program will work in conjunction with SREC's existing load management program, which the cooperative has had since 1986. Many participating members are equipped with a load management device on their water heaters which the cooperative can shut off on a rolling basis to reduce loads. Members have long been urged to turn off unneeded lighting and to run dryers, washers mainly at night and pool filters at night. Many of the suggested ways to reduce energy use translate to a cooler home. By not running a dryer during the heat of the day, the house will be cooler. Using an outdoor grill instead of the oven also helps keep the house cooler. "If you have a group of people involved, that can have a significant impact on rates," Teune said. "This is going to benefit everyone." She said that WSUS was selected because surveys done by SREC indicate a significant number of coop members listen mostly to that station. And while the goal of the program is to reduce peak energy loads and to reduce rates, the suggestions involved are of benefit anytime, even in winter months, Teune pointed out. "Everybody looks for a way to maintain or reduce rates," she said. "This is easy once you get into the routine."