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Why Demand Response Will Be an Important Grid Resource in Summer 2021

June 25, 2021

Over the past year, distributed energy resources like demand response have been important tools for utilities and grid operators across North America—Enel X customers have been dispatched in over 500 demand response events over this period. And as we approach the busiest time of year in demand response programs throughout the US and Canada, we at Enel X wanted to take a moment to recognize the commercial and industrial customers that do so much during critical events to help keep the grid stable. 


The Summer Heat Has Arrived

Hot summer weather is well underway across much of the United States. The Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast have all seen heat waves already, and both California and Texas recently issued requests to conserve energy during periods of hot weather. Enel X has already managed 37 dispatches across 9 operators over the past 30 days. 


Extreme temperatures are not the only weather concern for the summer ahead – many areas saw dry conditions throughout the winter. PG&E has begun gearing up for wildfire season earlier than usual amid California’s ongoing drought conditions. 


Continuing the Trend from 2020

These events are the continuation of a recent trend: extreme weather conditions appeared throughout North America in Summer 2020 and Winter 2021, with the most notable incidents being California’s 2020 wildfires and Texas’s winter storm in February


A recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) shows that, if extreme weather continues, some grid regions may face challenges once again this summer. And that could mean that distributed energy resources will again be called to action. 


NERC’s Report on Summer Reliability

NERC’s 2021 Summer Reliability assessment “identifies, assesses and reports on areas of concern regarding the reliability of the North American bulk power system for the upcoming summer system.” In this year’s report, NERC noted that many areas of North America are at elevated risk for energy emergencies for reasons of both energy supply and extreme weather.


NERC notes that regions including New England and Texas, among others, are at elevated risk to energy emergencies for Summer 2021, and parts of California are at high risk. 


The Value of Participating in Demand Response

Many of these at-risk regions faced challenges last year as well, and demand response was an important tool in responding to these emergencies.  The Texas winter storm last year, for instance, was a historic event—the state saw its worst winter weather conditions in decades, between large amounts of snow and days of freezing temperatures. The entire demand response fleet performed well during this storm, and we’re proud to be part of the efforts of the entire industry  at times like these. 


An ERCOT report on the winter storm and the performance of Emergency Response Service (a demand response program in Texas) noted that “as a fleet in aggregate, ERS (Emergency Response Service) loads generally over-provided relative to their combined obligation during the Winter Event. On average, fleet-level ERS Load reduction was 30%-35% above the combined fleet-level obligation during the first 12 hours after the first deployment.”


We’d like to specifically highlight the efforts of Enel X customers, who went above and beyond in their efforts when a demand response emergency event was called. In Texas, we met our obligation in full during the winter emergency, and most customers continued to remain curtailed well beyond their initial 12 hour ERS obligation, for the full 104 hour Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 3. 


This was an extreme event, and many businesses made great sacrifices to help the grid return to normal by curtailing their load the entire time. In return, Enel X paid all customers in full for the value of their participation. Enel X is proud to work with such dedicated organizations, and appreciates the efforts they’ve made.


Looking to the Months Ahead

While grid emergencies are rare, certain extreme weather conditions can make grid emergencies more likely, and the events in California and Texas demonstrate the real value of demand response: to provide a critical grid support resource to ensure electrons continue to flow in local communities. 


We expect demand response and distributed energy resources will continue to be an important tool for utilities and grid operators in the months ahead. All of our customers participating in demand response programs – either by shutting down equipment during a dispatch, or participating with on-site generation or battery storage – provide support to help create a more stable grid and keep their local communities running smoothly. 


Find out more about how demand response provides critical flexibility to the grid with Enel X, and read more customer spotlights of our annual Demand Response Award recipients to see how our customers support reliable electricity in their regions.