Unseasonably warm weather makes it easy to forget that three weeks of autumn and three months of winter lie ahead. 

These mild sunny days should not lull consumers into thinking they might skate through until next spring without experiencing a harsh winter storm. With Winter Storm Uri fresh on the minds of those still reeling from heating bills this past February, officials at Grand River Dam Authority, the state's largest public power utility, say now is the time to think about energy conservation — we agree. 

Taking steps now to incorporate energy conservation practices into daily routines has a personal benefit of keeping household expenses in check. Making a habit of incorporating energy conservation into our daily lives has the broader benefit of easing the demand on the grid when need is greatest — during times of emergencies.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a 2018 report, notes the reduction of "energy use in our homes, businesses and factories lowers power demand on the grid, which can boost electric system reliability." The nonprofit research organization reports that energy conservation not only saves money, it can be less costly "than alternative grid investments, such as new supply resources or transmission and distribution infrastructure." 

It is easy to confuse energy efficiency — the use of technology to reduce the energy required to perform a certain function — with energy conservation. The latter can be "any behavior that results in the use of less energy" — turning off lights when leaving a room, adjusting thermostats when leaving the house, and recycling aluminum cans are some examples.

Grand River Dam Authority — a state agency that generates, transmits and sells electricity to Oklahoma municipalities, electric cooperatives, industrial customers and off-system customers across a four-state region — estimates its costs of providing power during Winter Storm Uri at nearly $102.34 million. Some municipalities that buy electricity from GRDA will pay the portion owed during the next decade to ease the financial burden. 

Justin Alberty, GRDA corporate spokesman, said while the extreme winter weather experienced this past February was "very unusual for our part of the country," conservation "is always a good idea." A greater effort to conserve, he said, will reduce the demand for more generation, which "better positions GRDA to maintain the lowest possible cost for our public power customer communities."

Conserving now also will help ease the pain of a rate increase requested by Oklahoma Natural Gas to offset its costs from the February storm. The initial average monthly increase of about $1.27 for residential customers is part of a settlement agreement approved Monday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. 

Oklahomans fared better than their neighbors in Texas, where unregulated utilities failed customers at a critical time. Nevertheless, it would be better to conserve energy now ensuring a resilient power grid later. 

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