PPL Electric Utilities' residential and small-business customers can help reduce demand on the electric grid during times of summer peak use and get paid as a bonus.

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The programs works like this:

During times of high electric demand, a device installed outside the customer's home on or near the central air conditioning unit will automatically "cycle" the unit's compressor on and off for a few minutes each half-hour. This would be for no more than four hours at a time, on select days from June 1 through Sept. 30.

Cycling would occur on the hottest weekdays between noon and 7 p.m. Holidays and weekends would not be included unless there is a critically high need.

Customers in the Peak Saver Program don't need to use their thermostats differently. While the air-conditioner compressor may cycle off, its fan is still active and able to move air. Temperatures could temporarily rise a few degrees as a result.

All residential customers, as well as businesses with the GS-1 rate schedule, can earn up to $32 a year per device, called a digital cycling unit. Enrollment in the program, as well as installation of the cycling unit, is free. Participants also can opt out of the program at any time, at no cost, but would forfeit any payment for that year.

Enrollment is now open. To sign up, customers can call 1-866-748-2333 and speak with a program representative, or visit www.EpowerPeakSaver.com.

PPL Electric Utilities is working with Comverge, Inc. on the E-power Peak Saver Program. Comverge previously worked with the utility, supporting advanced metering initiatives for large commercial and industrial clients.