By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff WriterPublished: April 30th, 2015
President Barack Obama has signed an energy-efficiency bill that will preserve production of large grid-enabled water heaters that hundreds of electric cooperatives rely on for demand-response programs.
“We sincerely thank the president for signing this legislation. It allows important demand-response programs to continue saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars,” NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said after Obama signed the bill April 30.
Emerson praised the lawmakers who shepherded legislation through the House and Senate onto the White House.
She also thanked the many co-op leaders who encouraged Congress “to do the right thing and save this vital energy-saving tool.”
“This type of legislation makes a difference to the folks at the end of the power lines, the ones who pay the bills and most importantly, the ones who keep our economy going,” Emerson said.
The House approved S. 535 on April 21. The bill, authored by Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., passed the Senate on March 27.
The law will allow the continued manufacture of water heaters above 75 gallons for specific use in demand-response programs.
The law supersedes a ban on the production of these water heaters set by the Department of Energy in 2010, which took effect April 16.
More than 250 co-ops in 35 states use large-capacity electric resistance water heaters to reduce demand during peak hours by an estimated 500 megawatts.
Large, super-insulated water heaters can store low-cost, off-peak power as hot water, enabling co-ops to cut their fuel use and optimize operation of the electric grid.
Horry Electric is among the 250 co-ops using large-capacity electric resistance water heaters to reduce demand during peak hours. Members can participate in the H2O Load Management program if they have a minimum 50 gallon water heater already installed in their home that is no older than 5 years of age. Members installing a new electric water heater can participate in the H2O Select program.