Taking Charge of Demand Response
By Michael C. English, P.E. April 2014 - MS
The energy industry is operating within a broken down system. Utilities need $736 billion to fix America's electrical infrastructure. When consumer demand for electricity peaks, it puts extreme stress on the electrical-distribution grid. This aging system hampers utility companies and independent system operators (ISO), and they are paying customers to accommodate the situation by temporarily reducing energy use during periods of peak demand.
Escalating energy and operational costs are a burdensome reality that managers are facing more often. The demand for electricity and, consequently, owners' utility bills are growing exponentially.
Manager can use a variety of best practices to reduce a building's energy use. Improved energy efficiency, delivered through design and operation, is the first step towards reducing facilities' carbon footprint and building a sustainable future.
Maintenance and engineering managers can play a proactive role in preserving the existing infrastructure by participating in demand response programs. Demand response refers to the reduction in electricity use by end users in response to either changes in the price of electricity over time or incentive payments.
Demand response has received greater attention in recent years as a reliable and cost-effective way to meet system resource limits. These programs give customers incentives to lower electricity use when wholesale market prices are high or when system reliability is in jeopardy. Grid use, or demand, varies throughout the day and by season.
When consumers demand electricity at the same time — peak use time — this puts stress on the grid and drives up energy prices. Peak use time usually occurs in the late afternoon and early evening and is greater in the summer.
The power grid supplies the electricity demanded, and as the load grows, the aging grid becomes more and more stressed. Any overload of power can cause costly damage to facilities' systems.