Xcel may pay private electricity users to use less this summer

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DENVER (AP) Xcel Energy will offer homeowners $25 if they agree to turn off their air conditioners for short periods during the hottest days of the summer.

The Minneapolis-based company tried the idea last year, but hopes to have twice as many customers in Colorado, about 10,000 people, sign on this summer.

Peter Narog, spokesman for Xcel said, ''There is almost an altruistic feeling from participating, by helping to reduce electrical use and limiting the need to build new power plants.''

Xcel has forecast that it will have to buy electricity on at least eight days this summer to cover heavy demand in Colorado, and is seeking ways to cut costs and energy use.

The company has already announced plans to offer big industrial energy users incentives to cut back.

Under the homeowner program, Xcel will install a remote control device on a home's air conditioner, allowing the unit's compressor to be turned off for 15 minutes at a time.

Xcel is also offering a plan to small businesses. Instead of receiving the $25 flat rate offered to homeowners, businesses would be paid based on the size of their air conditioning equipment.

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