Demand response - using less energy during peak periods - is a big help to the power grid in summer
Posted by David Brooks | Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The Northeast has been a leader in developing "demand response" contracts with large companies, in which they agree to ramp back their power usage for short periods in return for a break on rates. This removes pressure on the power grid during peak-usage periods like the hot weather we just had.
Providing the last 1 percent of power during peak usage is very, very expensive (and usually very polluting, since it involves firing up every generator no matter how old), so avoiding that last little bit of usage is important. A big company that can halt production for an afternoon can balance out a lot of home air conditioners.
Demand response is a simple example of how a "smart grid" that alters power needs as well as power production can make a big difference in our energy picture.
Mass High Tech has a good story today about demand-response usage during our recent short but potent heat wave, via an interview with EnerNOC, a Boston-based firm that handles such contracts. It's worth a read- check it out here. A tidbit:
In total, 1,200 commercial, institutional, and industrial energy users in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Ontario, and other constrained regions responded to Thursday’s dispatch, providing valuable capacity to the grid that helped to stabilize prices and reduce system strain. The combined measures saved about 1,000 megawatts of demand response capacity.