The Awesome Power of Demand Response

The Awesome Power of Demand Response

Graph of Actual Demand vs Net Demand

For all of us energy geeks, this graph is a thing of beauty. It shows the classic “duck curve” caused by the setting sun (the green line, or “net demand”), actual demand (dark blue) edging up higher than forecasted demand, and the dip when 800 megawatts of DR was called to provide critical relief to the grid. (For those visually-inclined readers, Wade Schauer, Research Director, Americas Power & Renewables at Wood Mackenzie also posted a few great graphs.) 

Thanks to the efforts of the manufacturers, universities, office buildings, cold storage facilities, and dozens of other types of businesses that showed up for the May 3rd California dispatch, the lights stayed on throughout the region, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To illustrate my point, let’s all remember the impact of the 2003 Northeast blackout. During that blackout, one of the worst in American history, 50 million people lost power. At least 11 people lost their lives. Total cost of the blackout topped $6 billion. In New York, the backup battery systems for the 911 emergency dispatch system failed and each interruption led to a backlog of hundreds of calls. Hospitals stayed open, but powered only by backup generators; hospital units deemed non-critical, like maternity wards, went dark. In the 26 hours after power was lost, dozens of serious fires were reported across the region, half caused by burning candles and a number of others caused by generators malfunctioning.

In the United States, we take for granted that when you flip a switch, the lights will turn on. But our electric grid, which remains largely the same as it was during the time of Edison, is fairly fragile. More and more people are focused on grid resilience, and even after 10 years, it’s still just as exciting to be a part of that solution—not just through traditional demand response, but also by forging a vision for the integration of storage and other distributed energy resources.

So, to the Enel X customers who have taken action during a demand response dispatch—either this most recent one in California or any of the hundreds of DR dispatches we manage around the world—thank you. To my fellow Enel X employees—the engineers who build the software that make it all work, the operations team who oversee the dispatches and make sure we’re delivering against our commitments, the energy markets team who constantly analyze how best to deploy DR resources, the regulatory affairs and legal teams who went all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that demand response would continue to be a part of our nation’s energy toolkit—nice work changing the way the world uses energy.

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