Supplying electricity during periods of high demand can be complex and extremely costly. To alleviate this pressure, Ameren Missouri—a utility serving about 1.2M electricity customers across 64 counties in central and eastern Missouri—is launching a new demand response (DR) program that will provide incentives for large customers to reduce consumption from the grid during these periods.
To get some background on the program and details for the utility’s large customers, we spoke with Andy Lescynski, Enel X North America Program Manager, who will oversee the implementation and success of the program.
Q: Can you describe your background in demand response?
I’ve worked as an Associate Program Manager on the Energy Markets team at Enel X North America for two years. I primarily help vertically integrated utilities manage their demand during their most congested or expensive times. This is typically achieved by providing energy reductions from their commercial and industrial (C&I) customers and, in turn, provides relief to the grid.
Q: So what does this program require from Ameren Missouri’s customers? What do they need to do to receive payments?
Essentially, Ameren Missouri’s large C&I customers need to reduce their demand from the grid for a brief period when the utility needs it the most. Enel X North America works directly with these customers to find ways to make their electric load more flexible. This could mean re-scheduling equipment maintenance that requires downtime at industrial and manufacturing facilities or identifying nonessential equipment that can be shut down temporarily without disrupting operations in commercial buildings or cold storage facilities.
These events occur only a few times a year, and we find that customers can make these changes with little impact to production. At scale, these measures add up and provide significant relief to the grid.
Q: What motivated Ameren Missouri to launch a demand response program?
The state of Missouri passed legislation in 2009 aimed at improving energy efficiency by creating incentives for energy consumers. Specifically, DR provides an alternative to ramping supply when demand spikes and potentially building more power plants just to serve demand during a small number of brief periods throughout the year. And it’s important to remember that an increase in costs to deliver power is ultimately passed onto customers, so DR has an impact on energy consumers beyond the payments for its participants.
What we’re seeing in Missouri is similar to what we’re seeing in the electricity industry at large—an emphasis on improving how electricity is delivered across the grid. DR is not the only program to accomplish that goal, but it is playing an important role.
Q: Who is eligible to participate?
All Ameren Missouri business-class customers are eligible to participate. Typically, we see that DR is an attractive option for C&I customers with peak demands above 1 MW in the summer months.
Q: How does the program work during these events?
The Enel X North America team will evaluate potential participants and develop custom energy reduction plans to maximize their earnings. We also take on the responsibility of enrolling qualified customers into the program and protect all of our customers from penalties for underperformance.
When Ameren Missouri’s real-time operations team forecasts demand within 1% of the entire system peak, they will call on Enel X to dispatch our network of customers to provide system relief by curtailing energy usage for a brief period. Our Network Operations Center ensures our customers are notified at least one hour before any event and that they are able to maximize their participation and earnings through the program.
While every market is different, it’s important to point out that Enel X has done this before. We actually provide access to more demand response programs worldwide than any other provider, including several similar utility programs across North America. The DR program is an exciting opportunity both for Ameren Missouri and their C&I customers, and we’re excited to partner with them and help make this happen.