In parts of New England, wholesale spot prices for electricity hit $560 per megawatt hour on friday, 10 times annual average prices. The PJM Interconnection announced that it set a new record for Peak Power Use by meeting demand for 158,450 megawatts of power. (One megawatt of power can power 1000 homes).
The PJM Interconnection, which runs the nation’s largest grid network in the Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic regions, relied on demand response providers to take 2,358 megawatts of demand off the grid Friday afternoon, spokesman Ray Dotter told the NY Times today.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) estimated in May that about 35,600 MW of demand response is available to meet this summer’s critical peak days. (This is well below the estimated potential of such programs, which NERC places at 15 percent of total demand). Our friends at EnerNOC said that they curtailed 1,230 megawatts of power across the U.S. last week.
The upshot? Check out whatsmypower.com for your utility’s available Critical Peak Plans (aka Peak Day Plans). You may be able to save some dough! Customers participating in voluntary programs receive a payment or have reduced rates. (Most programs are for large commercial and industrial customers.) See for example the Southern California Edison (SCE) plan for large business. Also see the PG&E version, which provides a 3 percent discount on all energy use, if you agree to pay 60 cents a KiloWatt hour on Peak Days. (If you are able to reduce your demand on peak days, you can save significantly).
There are some Peak Day programs for residential consumers. Dominion Power, for example, Virginia’s largest utility, is in the second summer of its Smart Cooling Rewards program. It pays customers $40 a year for the right to install a radio control device on outside air conditioning units, permitting Dominion to switch the units off for 15 minutes at a time to reduce demand.