Ontario can shave peak demand

TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and its electricity industry partners are testing the communications system that will help thousands of Ontario households and businesses reduce their energy use when the province’s electricity system needs it most — on the hottest, steamiest days of summer when both electricity use, and prices, are the highest.

By the time Ontario sees its peak demand days this summer, the OPA hopes that more than 150,000 Ontario homes and businesses (up from 70,000 now) will be signed up to help the province avoid using higher cost electricity, typical of these moments. In 2008, a successful recruitment could see as much as 350MW of focused demand reduction removed from the system, at the best possible time. That’s enough to power some 350,000 homes.

According to Paul Shervill, OPA’s Vice President, Conservation and Sector Development, the Demand Response Simulation is part of the OPA’s involvement in the province’s first Energy Conservation Week — May 25-31. “It is a perfect time, in advance of hot summer days, to test our communications protocol and to raise awareness of Ontario’s special summertime peak-demand conservation messages.”

Today’s simulation involves communications for two province-wide OPA load management programs: peaksaver“, for controlled residential load reduction and Demand Response 3, for larger industrial and institutional loads.

Both programs are facilitated by “aggregators” contracted by the OPA to provide technical, management and operational support.

Residential and business customers will not be affected by the simulation — there is not intended to be an actual reduction in electricity use. The test is purposely scheduled at a time of year when electricity use is not at its peak since the focus is on how the communications system operates and not on how much electricity use is reduced.

The communications test provides an opportunity, on a voluntary basis, for industry participants to ensure that both standby and activation notices — required to initiate the demand response process — are issued, received and acted upon. The simulation will be assessed for thoroughness, timeliness and accuracy. Partners in the simulation include the OPA, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and many aggregators and local distribution companies.

Early today, IESO sent messages to the aggregators, requesting that the system resources be made ready for load reduction from 4 to 8 p.m. this evening. All participants will also receive a warning at 1:30 p.m. A final communication will trigger the simulated reduction at 4 p.m.

This is an important exercise, according to the OPA’s Shervill. “This demonstrates that thousands of Ontarians — from the smallest home to the largest business — are willing to help the province reach its energy conservation targets and that we can count on the communications system when we need it.”

Shervill believes Ontario has a unique opportunity to turn real, predictable demand response action into system savings. “So much of our generation is built to provide power just during limited periods of peak demand. If we can count on using less electricity at those same moments, then it is self-evident that we will need less infrastructure. That saves the system and individual consumers, a great deal of money, and reduces the need for the system to rely so much on its neighbours, as well.”

Thousands of Ontarians are helping to lessen the strain on the electricity system when demand is the highest. Participants in the peaksaver program are taking steps to reduce the electricity demand for the sake of our environment. This is a way for homeowners and small businesses to respond to the province’s call for conservation during summer heat waves.

It’s important to note that the Local Distribution Company will only use this tool when absolutely necessary, usually on weekday afternoons during those exceptionally steamy summer days.

Participating home owners and small businesses have a device installed (thermostat or switch) to allow a wireless signal to temporarily cycle air conditioning on and off with minimal impact on the comfort level of homes or businesses.

The OPA’s Demand Response 3 program allows businesses to reduce their electricity use during periods of peak demand and to be compensated for doing so, in addition to the costs saved by using less electricity. In order to support the ongoing development and maturity of Ontario’s demand-response market, the OPA has designed this program to encourage the use of so-called “aggregators.”

Aggregators are companies that assemble the electricity demands of many business clients into large blocks. These blocks of electricity demand can then be collectively removed when the power supply resources are being stressed to the limit, generally at times when the system demand for power, and electricity prices, are high. The features of Demand Response 3:

• contractual peak load shedding — an option of 100 or 200 hours per year;

• must be available approximately 1,600 hours per year for load shedding (noon to 9 p.m. in the summer and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in other months);

• payments made for being available 1,600 hours a year and when activated for the 100 or 200 hours;

• a program that commands high reliability in performance;

• availability payments are adjusted by premiums or discounts to reflect varying locational needs for demand response.


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