Electric utilities attempt to avoid building new generation facilities any sooner than absolutely needed because the cost of new facilities tends to increase the costs of power for all customers. A key component in minimizing upward pressure on electric rates is getting the maximum value out of the existing generation mix. This is the goal of load management.
There are several ways to accomplish load management. There are supply-side options that include having customers operate their emergency generators during peak times and interrupting certain customers during peak periods. These are called curtailable or interruptible load customers.
There are also demand-side options such as conservation , which focuses on using less electricity by taking measures such as setting thermostats differently, and energy efficiency , which focuses using less power to produce the needed energy form, such as replacing low efficiency incandescent lamps with high efficiency fluorescent lamps. There are also pricing options such as time-of-use rates that charge higher prices during peak periods to encourage customers to shift usage to other cheaper cost periods of the day.
Most utilities have a combination of load management programs in place to maximize efficiency and minimize new power plant construction.