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Pasadena Water & Power

  • Save Energy

    General Energy Conservation Tips

    There are many different ways you can conserve energy and save money. Many of these tips are easy to implement and results are almost immediate.

    Lighten Up Your Load

    • If you're not using a light, turn it off!
    • Switch out your old incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and cut your energy use for lighting by up to 75%. (Important: Always treat CFLs as electronic waste when they go out, and recycle them at an e-waste collection center.)
    • Replace your old incandescent holiday lights with LED holiday strands which use 90% less energy.

    Around the house

    • Lower your hot water temperature by setting the thermostat to "low," or below 120°F.
    • Install a water heater insulation blanket if your heater doesn't have an "Energy Guide" label indicating it as energy efficient.
    • Insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of cold and hot water pipes near your water heater. Insulating all hot water pipes is only necessary where pipes are located in a crawl space or attic. Keep foam insulation at least 6 inches from the flue of a gas water heater.
    • Turn your water heater control valve to "pilot" when you're away from home for a week or more.
    • Set your thermostat to 78°F in the summer. Note: The house will not cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past the desired temperature. Besides, it is easy to forget to turn it back down, which will waste energy dollars.
    • Turn the air conditioner off when away all day and during the night. Open the windows at night for natural cooling.
    • Regularly clean and replace filters to air conditioning units and appliances.
    • Seal, caulk and weather-strip the roof, walls, floors, around windows, doors, chimneys and cracks to keep the hot air out and cool air in. Insulate wherever possible, including attics, basement walls, crawl spaces, water heaters and ducts. Insulation can reduce your heating and cooling costs up to 30%.
    • Try to use appliances before noon and after 7PM.
    • Set your hot water heater thermostat at 120 degrees or "low". It's hot enough for most needs and it cuts down on energy needed to keep water hot in the tank.
    • Wash when you have full loads. When drying clothes, use the proper setting and load size.
    • Install a whole house fan. A new whole house fan installed between ceiling joists in the house can help defer central air conditioning use, and cut down on electricity bills.

    In the Kitchen

    Whether or not you plan to buy a new range or other cooking appliances, you can probably save some money by modifying your cooking habits.

    • Whenever possible, keep pots and pans covered. You will save fuel and shorten cooking time as well.
    • Using the proper flame height conserves fuel. The low flame setting is best for delicate sauces and milk, melting butter and cooking for small amounts of food. At a medium rate you can maintain a consistent boil, simmer, cook, fry or brown foods.
    • The highest flame setting should be reserved for a quick boil, stir frying or rapid cooking.
    • Use the microwave to provide a quick efficient alternative to oven cooking. Foods cook for a fraction of the energy and time.
    • Turn refrigerator setting to above 37°. Your refrigerator that is on 24 hours a day accounts for about 15% of the total home electricity bill. Check and clean the coils on the back or bottom of your refrigerator regularly, don't make it work harder than necessary. See your appliance manual for maintenance instructions. If you have an extra freezer or refrigerator that is nearly empty turn it off.

    In the Laundry Room

    Unlike furnaces and water heaters, dryers are not required to have Energy Guide labels. However, new gas dryers use much less than older models, because they light automatically without a continuous-burning pilot light and also have better insulation.

    Because of these new energy-efficient features, replacing an old gas dryer with a new one can save over 50% in energy cost.

    • Wash Full loads or adjust the water level accordingly
    • Wash with warm or cold water, Always rinse in cold water.
    • Every so often, check to see that the outside moisture exhaust vent of the dryer is open and remove any lint that has collected.
    • Dry full loads of clothes but don't overfill the dryer. One washer load is one dryer load. Clothes should tumble freely.
    • Don't over dry clothes - it wastes energy, causes shrinkage, and shortens the life of the clothes.
    • Separate lightweight from heavyweight fabrics for faster, more even drying.
    • Dry two or more loads in a row, taking advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
    • When drying only one or two items, add several compatible items to ensure proper tumbling and faster drying.
    • Don't open the dryer door unnecessarily. Warm air escapes from the dryer into the room.
    • Clean the lint filter before drying each load for quickest drying.

    In the Living Areas

    • When replacing appliances or equipment, buy products with the Energy Star® label, the symbol for energy efficiency. Households that replace existing equipment with Energy Star® products can cut annual energy bills by up to 30 percent. Call PWP's AnswerLine at (626)744-6970 for details.
    • Activate your Energy Star® "sleep" feature on home office equipment so that it automatically powers down when not in use to save up to $70 annually in electricity bills and improve product longevity.
    • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents that last ten times longer and require less energy.
    • During hot periods, close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight.
    • Install glass doors in front of the fireplace to help keep warm air in the home.
    • Along with gas logs, add a cast-iron fireback to your fireplace to promote heat transfer into the room. Positioned against the back wall of a fireplace, a fireback protects the masonry of the back wall and radiates the heat of the fire forward.

    In the Yard

    • Keep your spa or pool covered when not in use and cut down the time the filter runs to four or five hours a day.
    • Consider landscaping around the home: Plant evergreen trees on the north side and leafy trees on the south side of your home to block winter winds and the summer sun.
    • Keep your spa or pool covered when not in use. Well-fitted pool and spa covers help prevent heat loss for energy savings of 50-70% or more. They also reduce water evaporation.
    • Consider a solar cover for your pool; it lies on the water's surface and heats the water from the sun.
    • Pool and spa combos save energy because they share the same filtration and heating systems.
    • Use a time clock to pre-set the exact hours you want your pool heated.
    • When closing a pool for winter, drain all the water from the heater, filter, pump, and piping systems. Remove the pump motor and store in a dry place.
    • Inspect the spa heater annually for scale, mineral deposits, or corrosion.

    Are you too "plugged in"?

    With more people working from home and the growth of new technologies, products that require power in the average home have dramatically increased.

    Computer equipment is the fastest growing electric load in the world. Unfortunately, much of the energy for computers is wasted because they are often kept on while not in use.

    Additionally, most idle appliances—TVs, VCRs cable boxes, CD players, cordless phones, burglar alarms, microwaves—continue to use energy when switched off. This energy keeps display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working. These energy "leaks" are costly. New technology in TVs and VCRs bearing the Energy Star label will reduce wasted energy by up to 75 percent.

    Useful Links

    Here are two links to websites. The first link is to The California Independent System Operator website. Cal ISO is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation charged with operating the majority of California's high voltage wholesale power grid. Balancing the demand for electricity with an equal supply of megawatts, the ISO is the link between power plants and the utilities that service more than 30 million consumers. The website includes real time energy supply and demand statewide. The second link is to Flex Your Power, the site provides important conservation measures would affect statewide demand during peak periods.

  • FAQ's About Your Electric Service

    Could my power be out, but a neighbor across the street still have electric service?

    • Yes, neighbors can be on different circuits. Two different circuits could serve one street.
    • One circuit can serve up to 2,000 customers. If electricity is out in your house only or part of your house, then chances are that a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has shut off because of an overload or a short circuit. To get service again, you'll need to replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker in your electric switch box.

    How can I choose a contractor for my energy efficiency retrofits?

    • Determine what type of measures you'd be interested in. Each of the basic categories of lighting and HVAC require different types of contractors and varying levels of expertise.
    • Pick at least three companies, ask for local references and contact them. Have them provide bids. Most of the experienced contractors are knowledgeable about the new energy efficiency systems, and can provide a free estimate of the job. Remember that a contractor who is willing to educate you may ultimately provide more value.
    • When checking references, be sure to ask the following: Was the work done on time? Were there any changes in the scope once the job began? Were there any changes in the price, and if so, why?

    I have already retrofitted my home, how can I cut my bill even further?

    • Energy-efficient equipment is only part of the energy saving equation: The other part relies on behavior.
    • Encourage everyone in the home to turn off lights when not needed in storage areas, closets, and restrooms.
    • Turn off all lights PCs, monitors, printers, copiers every night before retiring and when away from home. Make energy efficiency a part of your life!

    What do I need to know regarding portable generators?

    • Please keep the following safety tips in mind if you are considering using a portable generator:
      1. Have a licensed electrician do any wiring needed to connect the generator to your internal electric circuits.
      2. Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions very carefully before connecting the generator to your electrical circuits.
      3. Plug electrical appliances into the generator using a heavy-duty extension cord.
      4. Do not connect the output of your generator directly to your house wiring or service panel! This can create electrical backfeed to the PWP distribution system and put field service crews in jeopardy of receiving severe or fatal electric shocks.
      5. To notify PWP of a generator location, please call Customer Service at 626-744-4005. Improper use and connection of a back up or portable generator can be a safety hazard. If you have an electric generator that is, or can be, connected to your electrical wiring, state law requires you to notify PWP of its location. Violators can be subject to fines up to $500 or six months imprisonment (Section 119090 of the California Health and Safety Code).

    What is the energy outlook for Pasadena?

    • PWP is prepared to meet our customers' needs.
    • We are developing a long-term resource plan to ensure that we have adequate resources to meet the long-term energy requirements in Pasadena.
    • Pasadena's generating station could supply 60 percent of the City's electricity needs; however, present air quality regulations limit the plant's generation production. Studies are currently underway to determine what can be done to bring our local generating facility up to modern environmental compliance standards.
    • We are pursuing partnerships with the cities of Burbank and Glendale to develop new energy resources.

    What can I do to help out during an energy crisis?

    • The best way to avoid blackouts is for each individual to do what they can to conserve electricity.
    • Behavioral changes such as turning off the lights when you're not using them and some investments, such as buying and installing Energy Star® appliances, can actually halve your energy bills.
    • PWP offers many rebate programs that can help electric customers conserve energy… just call the PWP AnswerLine at (626) 744-6970 to take advantage of these energy-saving programs.

    How do I deal with a rolling blackout?

    If a curtailment is implemented in your neighborhood, remember that it is a controlled event. The electricity is usually restored within two hours. Until power is restored, please consider these helpful tips:

    • If you are driving, avoid an outage area since traffic lights may not be operating. Treat intersections as if they are four-way stops. If you are a pedestrian, be extra alert, since normal traffic patterns are disrupted.
    • Keep at least one traditional phone linked by cord, since portable (cordless) phones won't work without electricity.
    • Turn off all major appliances to prevent circuits from overloading.
    • Leave one light on to indicate when the power has been restored. Keep a battery-powered flashlight and radio handy, with plenty of spare batteries. If it is dark, use flashlights, never use candles since they can start a fire.
    • Do not burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
    • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food as fresh as possible
    • Consider installing a surge protector to prevent sudden surges of power that can damage computers, fax machines and other equipment. Also, check your internet service provider's back-up strategy if access is critical to you.
    • Learn how to work your automatic garage door manually so you don't get stuck without a car.
    • Protect your computer: Back up important data and files regularly. During an outage: Remove the power plugs that belong to the computer, monitor, printer and scanner from the wall socket. Power surges can cause damage to your computer if it's still plugged into the wall.
    • If you have a security system, check to make sure the back-up batteries are fully charged. Create a contingency emergency plan for your home and business. (Note: The type of business you have and the type of equipment you use should be reflected in your plan.) Everyone concerned should be trained in safety precautions and emergency procedures.

    Why does Pasadena have rolling blackouts if Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) has its own generating station?

    • Pasadena is part of the state power grid and its contract with the state's Independent System Operator (ISO) requires that Pasadena abide by ISO directives during power shortage emergencies.

    Why did PWP enter into a contract with the ISO?

    • To enhance overall system reliability that provides 24-hour backup for all of PWP's energy sources. And most importantly, to enable PWP to operate its generating station more efficiently.
    • Through this cooperative agreement with the ISO, in the event that our generation plant suffers an outage during normal operations or any of PWP's other resources become suddenly unavailable, the entire western grid backs up PWP.
    • Another benefit of the ISO agreement is that PWP has been able to sell power into the wholesale marketplace. Power that PWP can generate from purchases through its long-term contracts that is in excess of the requirements to serve Pasadena can be sold into the marketplace. PWP uses revenues from selling excess power into the spot energy market and from standby reserves to offset operating costs thereby helping to keep rates stable for Pasadena electric customers.

    What is the ISO Notification?

    • The California Independent System Operator (ISO) controls 75 percent of the state's transmission grid and secures power supplies for most of the state's customers. The ISO continually monitors the state's electric system to ensure there is enough supply. When there is a significant electricity imbalance between supply and demand, the ISO may issue an Alert, a Warning or a Stage 1,2, or 3 Emergency.

    What are the levels of notification?

    • Alerts: The ISO will inform PWP that operating reserves in the day-ahead market are forecasted at less than 7%.
    • Warnings: The ISO informs PWP that operating reserves in the hour-ahead market are forecasted at less than 7%.
    • Emergency Stage 1: The ISO informs PWP that operating reserves are less than 7% in real time or are unavoidable. Customers are urged to reduce their use of electricity.
    • Emergency Stage 2: The ISO informs PWP that operating reserves are less than 5% in real time or are unavoidable. The ISO can require PWP to reduce voluntary interruptible load. If ordered to curtail interruptible non-firm load, PWP will implement California Public Utilities Commission CPUC-approved programs in which customers have voluntarily agreed to have their services interrupted during these types of emergencies. These voluntary interruptions are implemented to prevent a more severe condition.
    • Emergency Stage 3: The ISO informs PWP that operating reserves are less than 1.5% in real time or are unavoidable. The ISO can order PWP to curtail firm load. If ordered to curtail firm load, PWP will implement its CPUC-approved rotating outage plan in which controlled rolling blackouts are rotated among groups of customers. These outages will be implemented until the ISO notifies PWP that the emergency has passed.

    How does the rolling blackout rotation work?

    • PWP has identified the circuits available for use in rolling blackouts and has a rotating outage plan approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The amount of power the ISO designates for curtailment will determine the number of groups that are interrupted at any one time.
    • An outage is expected to last about one hour but can last up to two hours depending on the severity of the situation. At the end of the hour, service will be restored to the affected groups and the next groups on the list will be interrupted.
    • The goal is to maintain the load curtailment requested by the ISO.

    What is a circuit and how are they selected for rolling blackouts?

    • A circuit is an underground or overhead electrical line that supplies power to a combination of residential and/or commercial customer groups within a given geographical area. Most of PWP's circuits are subject to the rotating outages.
    • Each group is made up of a number of circuits with approximately 3 megawatts of electrical usage per group. Each circuit generally serves between 800 and 2,000 customers.
    • Under the CPUC's regulations, only those circuits that serve specifically designated classes of customers that provide critical public health, safety, and security services (such as hospitals, fire and police stations) are exempted from these outages. All remaining circuits are arranged into groups that represent all customer types (residential, commercial and industrial).

    How will I be notified about a Stage 3 Emergency and rolling blackouts?

    • When a Stage 3 Emergency is declared by the ISO, PWP will contact all media and they will be encouraged to broadcast the news immediately. There may be as few as10 minutes after a Stage 3 Emergency is declared before PWP will begin rotating outages. Circuits serving residential customers on life sustaining equipment who are registered with the Pasadena Fire Department will be exempted from rolling blackouts.

    How can I find out the circuit that I'm on?

    • Your circuit number is located on your PWP utility bill.
    • Call Customer Service at 626-744-4005.
    • Call the AnswerLine at 626-744-6970.

    How do I know if my circuit will be affected by a blackout?

    • Call Customer Service at 626-744-4005.
    • Call the Answer Line at 626-744-6970.
    • Check PWPweb.com for daily updates.
    • Watch KPAS, channel 3.

    I am a PWP “water only” customer do I get my circuit number from you?

    • Circuit numbers are only available to PWP electric customers. If you are a "water only" customer, please contact your electric service provider.

    If my circuit is the first one chosen for a blackout, does that mean that my circuit will always be the first to lose power?

    • No. PWP tracks the order of the groups of circuits that have been interrupted and rotates them to make sure that the same groups will not always be first.

    Will we have rolling blackouts any time soon?

    • The ISO determines how much power is needed to safeguard reliability in California. In the event there is a Stage III Emergency (generation reserves fall to 1½ % or less), the ISO will notify PWP how much of its load (power) it is required to blackout.
    • Because statewide power shortages can occur very rapidly, the ISO provides very little advanced notice to cut load. However, we will do our best to minimize blackouts and advise our customers on the best ways to stay safe should they occur.