Slow Cook Your Way Out Of A Drought-Stricken Electricity Bill

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is proposing a rate increase due to extreme drought having reduced their ability to ramp up hydroelectric generators in time for customers to turn on the bright kitchen lights and cook dinner - after 4:00PM.

Only 6 percent of TVA energy comes from hydroelectric, and TVA just finished spending $1.8 billion on a nuclear plant, but the utility blames drought for a rate surcharge this month.

Hydroelectric accounts for a small part of the Tennessee Valley Authority's energy portfolio, but it historically has played a major part in meeting peak demand... Increasingly, TVA is turning to natural gas to meet peak demand. Last week, it paid $180 million to a California company to begin the design and construction of "peaking plants" that produce electricity from natural gas.


What can people do to help reduce "peak demand," and save money, when drought takes away the green hydro-power option? Getting "take out" food only shifts the electricity consumption from home to a restaurant; plus it adds the footprint of pickup or delivery. Hopefully, TVA will steer its consumers toward "smart metering," a marketing scenario where electricity bills reflect hourly changes in demand by the consumer. In that future scenario, one way to save electricity and money would be to cook with a 'crock pot' (a brand name of the generic 'slow-cooker.' Timer-controlled rice steamers fall into the same category. You can have them do the cooking before you arrive home, pre-peak.

Note: there is some confusion around whether slow cookers reduce net electricity consumption, a subject addressed at length on this Stretcher web post. This controversy gets to a really basic crock pot design issue that has long annoyed this writer. Why do not slow cookers come with superior exterior insulation and energy star ratings? Surely there are more efficient ways to stabilize the internal temperature than using high-mass thick ceramic pot walls to moderate internal temperature via damping of outward heat loss. It couldn't be that much more expensive to add a Vacuum Bottle -like exterior shell and part insulted glass cover.

Consumer Reports mentions in passing that "Several manufacturers have added insulation or a layer of plastic to the outer shell to minimize the heat and prevent accidental scalding when touched." Anyone have a model to recommend?

Via::DecaturDaily.com, "Drought and high power costs - Why Valley electric bills go up when water in river goes down." Image credit::Decature Daily, Tennessee Valley Authority's Wheeler Dam power house and transmission facility.

Tags: Alabama | Tennessee