In today’s electric-powered world, energy innovation is taking center stage. For electric cooperatives like San Isabel Electric Association, we have a “good” problem to solve.  

First of all, SIEA is a not-for-profit distribution cooperative. That means we buy electricity at a wholesale rate. Then, we distribute it to our members for the same price that it costs us to buy and distribute that power to you. If there’s left over money after operation costs, it is returned to members.  

So, with the increased adoption of electric products such as vehicles, bikes, water heaters, HVAC, and more, we have an increased demand for our products and services. There is immediate pressure to innovate. And we are doing so, stepping up with programs designed to manage energy usage more effectively. 

What’s the solution? 

Demand reduction programs. These initiatives encourage member-owners to use electricity during off-peak hours when demand is lower, and costs are reduced. By doing so, utilities can balance the load on the grid and avoid costly upgrades.  

San Isabel Electric’s latest move: a battery-storage-time-of-use pilot program, takes demand reduction programs one step further. This innovative approach pairs solar generation and battery storage with a time-of-use rate to offer discounted electricity during specific hours. It’s a win-win for consumers and the grid. 

But how did it all start?  

Well, it began with a partnership between San Isabel Electric and the Primero RE-2 School District. When the district acquired electric school buses, San Isabel Electric was called in to handle the charging infrastructure. 

Enter Jack Snell, San Isabel Electric’s Energy Services Manager. He noticed a problem; the buses were being charged during peak hours, driving up costs for both the district and the utility. Snell quickly found two solutions. 

First, he reprogrammed the chargers to schedule charging during off-peak times. Then he switched the chargers to a time-of-day(TOD) rate, which financially incentivized the use of electricity during off-peak times, when demand is lower and electricity costs less. 

“This small move, combined with the 2024 TOD rate, should save the school district around $15 per day in charging and drastically reduce the demand to SIEA’s power bill and system in general,” Snell said.  

With grant funding, a roof-mounted solar array was installed on the school’s community center and a battery was installed to match charging demand. The battery completely mitigates electricity usage during on-peak hours, which saves both the school and San Isabel Electric’s members money. 

But the story doesn’t end there.  

San Isabel Electric currently has four members participating in the new solar-battery-storage pilot program. This program recognizes the untapped potential of pairing solar generation with battery storage and a time-of-day rate. Once we complete the pilot phase, we will roll the final program out to our membership. 

If you are interested in the battery pilot program, please email energyservices@siea.com or call 800-279-SIEA and ask for the Energy Services Department.  


Please note: Without a battery, time-of-day rates do not make a lot of sense to many solar owners. That’s because off-peak times are during the night, when the sun isn’t shining, and solar arrays are not generating electricity. On the time-of-day rate, member-owners can get electricity at nearly half the regular rate during certain times of the day. Residential members interested in the time-of-day rate must have an electric vehicle, an electric vehicle charger, a qualifying battery storage device, or an electric thermal storage heater to qualify. More information about the time-of-day rate is available at siea.com/timeofday.