If you’ve spent time on our blog, you’ve likely noticed we are constantly reiterating the importance of getting to know and understand your energy bills. One of the items on your BC Hydro bill that can drastically alter your bill is your power factor penalty. Fortunately, this can be easily and quickly reduced. Here’s what you need to know to eliminate power factor penalties in your building.
What is power factor?
Power factor is a measure of how effectively the energy supplied by BC Hydro is used within a building. Power factor is the ratio of usable power (kW) to reactive power (kVar) in a circuit. It varies between 0 and 1, and is normally given as a percentage (0 to 100 per cent).
This can get complicated to explain, but some pieces of equipment can create noise in the electrical system. BC Hydro applies a penalty to business customers whose power factor drops below 90 per cent.
How do BC Hydro power factor penalties work?
Medium and large general service customers are penalized when power factor drops below 90%. Penalties increase incrementally the lower the power factor, exact penalties are outlined in the diagram below. Power factor penalties are not applicable for small general service BC Hydro customers.
90% - 100%
88% - 90%
85% - 88%
80% - 85%
75% - 80%
70% - 75%
65% - 70%
60% - 65%
55% - 60%
50% - 55%
How can I eliminate my power factor penalties?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to address poor power factor, the most common of which involves installing capacitors to correct this noise before the meter can read it. This is a relatively simple and easy correction to implement with minimal facility interruption.
In our experience the payback for fixing power factor ranges from 10 – 14 months, but varies depending on the facility. For most facilities, making the decision to install a capacitor is a no brainer and one of the easiest ways to reduce unnecessary energy costs.
Need help lowering your electricity bills? Contact us today for a free energy assessment.