Monday, April 8, 2013

The Negawatt of power

Demand response management of power has started fetching positive results in the US. Grid operator PJM last week released a report detailing the results of its demand-response programs after a new pricing rule was put in place last spring. Since last April, $8.7 million of revenue was generated in the seven months after the rule, called Order 745, went to affect – that was more than was made in the previous 41 months.
Last year, PJM increased its use of economic demand response by 714%, with 141,568 megawatt-hours taken off-line over the course of the year. One of the main reasons for the increase is a change in rules. With Order 745, large energy users, such as commercial buildings or factories, get paid the wholesale price for their power reductions when it’s cost-effective.

The sharp uptick in participation shows that big energy users are willing to turn down non-essential power use to earn money and that utilities can rely on this “resource” in a significant way.
EnerNOC, which manages demand-response programs, says its services have displaced the need for 80 power plants that provide peak power.
Traditionally, grid operators turn on auxiliary power plants to keep pace with electricity demand, which typically starts going up in the morning and peaks in the late afternoon and early evening. Demand response helps meet that climbing need for energy during the day through reductions, such as adjusting thermostat settings, dimming lights, or changing when hot water heaters run. The idea is to run these voluntary programs so there’s no disruption to electricity customers and the changes, such as thermostat resets, are minor. Utilities run programs, such as raising air conditioner set points across thousands of homes, during very hot summer days when power generators are maxed out. 

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