SAN ANTONIO - University United Methodist Church uses a lot of power to cool its buildings on its 15-acre campus every day. Combined with other utility costs, the church spends an average of $1,000 a day.
Those costs are a little higher in the summer, especially when their doors are open 14 to 15 hours a day serving youth groups, visiting missionaries and other meetings throughout the day.
But those costs are going down thanks to the church's enrollment in CPS Energy's energy management program, which provides rebate incentives to reduce power during peak periods.
"It's been exciting because it gives us something to shoot for and we've been very successful with the load shedding," said Jim Martin, the church's operations manager.
The church is in its second year of the program, which CPS Energy has had for four summers. Last year, they saved enough energy to earn a $17,000 rebate check.
"We found that customers, in fact, over perform," said Rick Luna, the demand management and analysis manager for CPS Energy. "They reduce even more than they commit to and we've seen that every year. Once they learn how to do this, they really get into the spirit of it and they chip in as much as they can."
Thanks to computer programs, Martin and his co-workers are able to monitor and control the temperature in every room on the campus. What would take one person nearly a full day to manually do, takes about two hours on the computer, coordinating cooling schedules with the daily demands of the campus.
"I won't say it's fun, but people know we're doing it, they live with it and they work with it," said Martin.
"We will go in the day after an event and measure their performance and provide that to them so they know as they go through the summer a sort of running score card of their performance," added Luna.
On Tuesday, CPS Energy customers set a June record of 4,852 megawatts used. That's just 59 MW off the all-time record set last Aug. 2.
The participating companies saved 70 MW on Tuesday and residents through the Smart Thermostat program saved an additional 25 MW. It represents just 2 percent of usage but Luna said it still makes a big difference.
"At critical times, when temperatures are in the hundreds that gives us an extra margin that helps us stabilize the grid and ensure that we have power for everyone," said Luna.
Copyright 2012 by KSAT.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.