A South Bay aerospace company is trying to establish a cooperative of businesses that would reduce their electricity use during peak consumption periods--a move that ultimately could reduce residential utility rates.
TRW Inc.'s Electronic and Defense Sector is currently the only company in the cooperative but it is trying to get others to join. A spokesman would not say what companies TRW intends to recruit.
Under a contract with Southern California Edison Co., companies in the cooperative would get rebates on their electric bills for agreeing to reduce their electricity use by 25% when Edison's plants are pushed to the limit, most often during the summer.
"TRW's decision to join the coalition came after an extensive study of potential conservation measures that we could implement," said Kraig H. Scheyer, TRW's manager of environmental affairs.
"We opted for the coalition," Scheyer said, "because not only do we expect to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs, but we also believe that there is real value in belonging to a group of like-minded companies that are serious about managing energy demand for the long haul."
"It's mutually beneficial," said Steve Galanter, an Edison spokesman. "We're trying to reduce peak energy demand, and by being able to shift energy use to different periods, we can establish a service that everyone can live with. It's a valuable resource to be able to have companies willing to decrease their energy use."
TRW has been involved in the program since January, and Scheyer said he expects a rebate this year of about $150,000 on the company's annual $15-million electric bill. He expects the rebates to increase to about $300,000 in the future. TRW has nearly 18,000 employees in 27 buildings in Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.
An Edison spokesman said that if a company was asked to reduce power, that company would most likely select an area in its plant from which the work could be moved to another facility or time, such as testing equipment.
So far, Edison has not had to call on members to reduce their electric use.
The South Bay cooperative is part of a statewide organization--the California Energy Coalition--that in the next 10 years is trying to eliminate the need for 2,500 megawatts of new generating capacity in the state, the equivalent of two nuclear plants. A megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts of electricity, enough to serve about 900 homes. Edison would save about $10 billion by not having to build two new power plants, according to a spokesman for the utility.
Measures like the cooperative "allow electric companies to defer the construction of additional power plants," Scheyer said. "The community in turn will realize lower electric rates because saving power produces the same effect as having equipment to generate needed electricity."
The statewide effort began in July, 1982, with about a dozen Orange County businesses. Coalition members pay fees ranging from $8,000 to $150,000, to cover administrative costs and a computerized review of each company's electricity use. Rebates are based on the amount of energy that Edison could save if a reduction were necessary.
The statewide coalition controls about 18 megawatts of electric power in Orange County and the South Bay. Among the member companies in Orange County are the Koll Co., the Irvine Co., Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co., South Coast Plaza Town Center, Hoag Hospital, the Irvine Hilton hotel and the Orange County sanitation districts.
A computer system is installed at each company to monitor energy consumption. That information is fed into a central computer in Laguna Beach that links all the computers with one at Edison.
Al Pipkin, a spokesman for the coalition in Laguna Beach, said that if current members in Orange County temporarily reduced their electric use by 25%, that would be enough to serve about 10,500 residential customers.
Pipkin said that by employing various conservation measures on a daily basis, coalition members have cut back daily use by 10%.
In 1983, Edison paid the coalition $171,000 in rebates and in 1984 it returned $319,000. Last year the utility paid the coalition more than $500,000.