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Enel X Demand Response Customers Help California Battle Blackouts

August 12, 2020

California’s most intense heat wave of the summer began last Friday, and it is expected to continue through the week. High temperatures often create difficulties for the grid, and though the involved parties are still exploring the exact causes, the heat was one factor that led to rolling blackouts, the first since 2001. 


Amid these difficult circumstances, Enel X customers have stepped up to the challenge and helped support the grid with demand response, energy storage, and smart EV charging.


Enel X customers were ready

Understandably, companies have been adjusting their business model due to the impact of COVID-19. Despite the anticipated lower energy demand due to coronavirus, we have seen record demand response activity across North America this summer


At Enel X, we’ve worked with customers to recalibrate their potential contributions and make sure they’re able to participate, ensuring local communities can realize the full value of demand response when an emergency happens. Even with this summer’s uncertainty, Enel X customers have gone above and beyond and delivered crucial resources to the grid.


This heat wave resulted in more than 250 sites being dispatched across multiple regions, and our team had all hands on deck to help ensure a smooth process for customers. Customers were asked to reduce their demand multiple days in a row, a very rare occurrence but one which can have an impact on their operations. But our team has been positively overwhelmed by our customers' readiness to help their local communities and the stability of the grid. Our customers’ contribution helps to minimize disruption and in many cases prevent or shorten the duration of events like these California blackouts.


Executing when it counts

At Enel X, we saw a flurry of activity starting on Friday as the grid operator, California Independent System Operator (CAISO), declared a rare Stage 3 emergency, followed by another Stage 3 emergency on Saturday. To help alleviate the demand, utilities dispatched demand response programs every day from Friday to Tuesday, with more possible throughout the coming week.


Over the course of the past week, nearly all California demand response programs were called including 5 different demand response programs across Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric. Enel X resources have been dispatched 20 times, totaling more than 80 hours across all programs so far. Our portfolio of demand response, energy storage, and smart EV charging provides a flexible capacity of 150 to 200 MW – the equivalent of 115,000 average homes.


The majority of that reduction comes from conventional demand response, but energy storage and smart EV charging contributed as well, and are important parts of the future of energy in California.  Enel X even activated a broader group of its EV charging community to voluntarily reduce strain on every corner of the California grid.


Ready for the future

The heat wave is expected to continue throughout this week, and the heat seen in California and other parts of the country this summer is part of a broader trend, with extreme weather expected to continue increasing over the coming years. 


Further complicating the situation, wildfire season is expected to peak soon, and California Governor Gavin Newsome declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. While California utilities have prepared extensively for this year’s wildfires, blackouts are now an annual feature of wildfire season in the form of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).


Enel X helps customers across the spectrum to prepare for these and other challenges, whether it’s by helping to lower demand with demand response or helping businesses protect themselves with resiliency infrastructure. Whatever the future holds, we’re ready to help our customers.