For the first time since 2007, Xcel Energy activated its hot-weather "Saver Switch" power management system Tuesday.
During a so-called "interrupt," Xcel Energy cycles air conditioners off and on at 20-minute intervals. Tthe "interrupt" was declared from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and affected 325,000 residential customers and 15,000 commercial customers in Minnesota.
Spokeswoman Mary Sandok said the cycles allow the utility to save energy during peak times.
"The goal is to ensure that we have the adequate amount of power for all of our customers," Sandok said. "Overall the program will prevent us from having to build several small power plants."
Sandok said the company created the program to prevent blackouts and other hot-weather related problems.
Customers who sign up for the program get a special remote switch installed near their central air conditioner.
Participants receive a 15 percent discount on their electricity and fuel cost charges on bills from June through September.