Shave the Peak

Receive alerts to save energy when the grid is at its dirtiest.

Current peak data

Peak alert Monday, July 15th to Wednesday, July 17th, 2024! Conserve electricity from 4-8pm.

Current peak: Monday, July 8th, 2024. Demand in New England reached 23,269 MW around 6:55pm.

Last Summer's Peak: September 7th, 2023 - 23,648 MW

How does Shave the Peak work?

Consumer action is a better, cleaner, and cheaper way to meet electric demand on peak days.

Shave the Peak empowers people to use less electricity when it matters most. Become a member of a growing community committed to reducing electricity use at home on days when skyrocketing overall demand is met by the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels. These are called “peak days.”

Our collective actions advocate forward-thinking policies that can transform our electric grid.

Sign up to receive conservation alerts on peak days, learn more about the electric grid, and support our advocacy efforts to clean up the New England power system.

  • Sign up for Shave the Peak alerts to receive text or email alerts about peak events. We’ll let you know when a peak day is coming up and send you some suggestions for cutting down on electricity use during peak hours.
  • After signing up, you’ll be able to manage and change your alert preferences or opt out at any time.
  • Engage with us! Let us know how you’re shaving the peak by emailing us or tagging your efforts with #ShaveThePeak on social media.

About peak electric demand

Peak days, which occur on just a few days ever year, drastically impact the affordability and sustainability of the electric grid. So what’s going on?

To see what happens to the grid on a peak day, we can look at Friday, August 12th, 2016, which was the highest electric demand day of 2016 and one of the hottest days of the summer. On that day, temperatures soared above 95 degrees; across the region, New Englanders all cranked their air conditioners. As the afternoon wore on and people got home from work, they started cooking, turned on their TVs, or ran the laundry. Electric demand peaked at over 25,000 MW—almost twice the normal electric system load.

Shave the Peak, Graphs_Fuel Mix on a Summer Peak Day, 8-12-16

To meet the extreme electric demand, the grid operator—ISO-New England—turned to “peaker plants,” the power generators of last resort. These power plants are generally the dirtiest and most expensive, running on gas and oil and selling their power at extremely high rates. Peaker plants are only necessary for the highest demand hours, about 2 – 7% of the year in full. In the graph above, you can see how the grid ramps up power from oil and gas peaker plants as electric demand grows.

As demand grows, price skyrockets. At the price peak on August 12, 2016, wholesale electric prices per MWh were over ten times the average for the year. Peak hours have such a big impact on our electricity costs that just 1% of the hours in the year account for 8% of the costs, and 10% account for 40%.

Shave the Peak, Graphs_Peak Hours

Peak days don’t just happen in the summer. Because most New Englanders use natural gas to heat their homes and buildings, on the coldest winter days, natural gas peaker plants don’t have enough gas to run. So, the grid turns to the dirtiest, most expensive fuel—oil—to meet the electricity demand. On the peak day last January, oil fuel provided the plurality of megawatt hours to the grid.

Shave the Peak, Graphs_Fuel Mix on a Winter Peak Day, 1-5-18

On a peak day demand can be twice as high, but prices can be TEN times as high.

Shave the Peak, Graphs_Demand Price Comparison

Peak days are expensive and dirty—but we can help. We can usually predict when peak events will occur a few days in advance, so we can plan to reduce demand during the hours of highest electric use. Sign up for Shave the Peak alerts to receive peak event notifications and suggestions for how to cut down on electricity use.

Ways to conserve

  • The most effective way to save energy during summer peak events is by turning the air conditioning up a few degrees, or off.
  • If you cool with a heat pump, don’t turn it off, just adjust the temperature 2 – 3 degrees.
  • Use fans whenever possible, because they use far less electricity.
  • Avoid using large appliances (like washers, dryers, and dishwashers) in the afternoon and evening.
  • Take a break from TV, computers, and other electronic devices for the afternoon—or charge portable devices beforehand and run them off of battery during the peak.
  • If you have an electric car, make sure that you charge it before or after the peak, not during.

Conserve energy all year round—not just during peaks. Learn more about energy efficiency here.