Power Factor

What is Power Factor?

Power factor is a measurement of how efficiently the consumer is utilizing the energy they consume.

Why is Low Power Factor a Problem for the Utility?

While a low power factor DOES NOT result in the consumer using additional energy it DOES unnecessarily consume additional capacity of all the electric utilities facilities from the point of generation to the end user.  Without proper steps taken to mitigate this problem the system would not be capable of supporting existing loads.  Additionally, the energy losses in transporting the power from generator to end user would increase, resulting in the need for additional generation resources.

Why is Low Power Factor a Problem for the Customer?

Because of the problems low power factor causes the utility, Lewis PUD charges customers when their power factor falls below 0.95 (on a scale of 0.00 to 1.00).  These charges can be minimal or in many cases substantial.    Additionally, low power factor can cause other electrical problems for the consumer including excessive voltage reduction and shortened equipment life to name a couple.  Ultimately, Lewis PUD reserves the right to discontinue service to any customer with a power factor of less than 0.8

How do I know if I Need to Correct My Power Factor?

For commercial and industrial customers the PUD monitors and records power factor each time the meter is read.  If power factor falls below 0.95 you will see a line item on your bill showing what your power factor was for the billing cycle and the associated cost.  We generally see customers show concern over the financial impact when the “power factor adjustment” reaches a dollar amount equal to 10% of their total bill.   However, we would encourage any customer receiving a power factor adjustment charge to contact an electrician about correction.  Mitigation costs can be recovered in as little as 6-12 months in some cases.

Cowlitz Falls Project Photo Cowlitz Falls Project