Major power users working to limit ‘spikes’
MIDDLEBURY — Spikes in electricity demand can result in blackouts and brownouts, as well as increase the cost of energy for all electricity users in the affected region.
So, in addition to making more power available, ISO New England, the company that manages the regional power grid, also tries to reduce power demand through its “demand response providers.”
The primary demand response provider it works with is called Energy Network Operations Center, known as EnerNOC.
ISO New England pays EnerNOC to reduce stress on the grid and EnerNOC provides financial incentives to large energy users to reduce their consumption. EnerNOC installs smart meters at customer facilities to help EnerNOC analyze the customer’s consumption and bring it down to a set amount in times of need. When the grid is reaching capacity, ISO New England sends a signal to EnerNOC, which works with their end users to reduce energy consumption.
“Instead of calling on power plants to increase supply, we call out for companies that are enrolled (in EnerNOC’s demand curtailment program) and will be compensated to reduce demand,” said ISO New England spokeswoman Ellen Folley. “We called for over 600 megawatts for demand response on Friday and we’re currently awaiting final numbers as to who responded.”
One of the local end-users that participate in EnerNOC’s “DemandSmart” program is Middlebury College.
“We commit to shed a certain amount of electrical load — kilowatt hours — when the call comes in that the New England grid is stressed. Our commitment to that program is to shed 350 kW, that’s about 10 percent of our electricity demand on any given day,” said Mike Moser, Middlebury College assistant director of facility services. “Our process to do that is to turn off a main electric chiller, which serves about five of our main buildings on campus.
This is not the first time the college has been called to lighten its energy load on a hot day.
“We typically get one to two calls per year to support that program and they’re all in the summer, you know, very hot and humid days,” Moser said. “In the past few years the typical duration of these events has lasted a couple hours, maybe two to three. At the end of it, when they feel the grid is no longer distressed, they’ll call us back and say things are good to go.”
Moser did not say how much money the college saved through reduced energy costs.