Beyond a smart grid to mix and match the supply solar and wind to get rid of any need for new coal or nuclear plants, as FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff recommended three years ago, FERC also has plans to mix and match demand. Energy customers can volunteer to shut off their air conditioners or clothes dryers automatically if there’s not enough supply. This could facilitate adding solar power, by basically acknowledging that it may not always supply a fixed capacity.
Demand response, an innovative strategy to ensuring the integrity of electric grids, is growing in popularity, prompting federal regulators to consider standardizing how demand response performance is measured.
Managing an electric grid entails ensuring a constant balance between electric generation and customer demand for electricity. As customer demand rises, grid operators have traditionally called on more and more generating units. In most markets, grid operators dispatch the lowest-cost units first to keep overall costs down. As a result, generating units needed to meet peak demand tend to be more expensive than baseload generation. Many peaking units also emit more pollutants per unit of energy than baseload units.
In a demand response program, customers can volunteer to be available to reduce their load during times of peak demand. When done right, this reduction in customer demand can play much the same role as dispatching additional generation, but at a lower cost in dollars and environmental impacts. Energy efficiency resources can also play a similar role.
The U.S. Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have both recognized that demand response can be a decentralized, crowd-sourced alternative to peaking power plants. Utilities and regional transmission organizations across the nation are implementing demand response programs.
Across the nation…. How about it, Georgia Power, and Georgia EMCs? How are your demand response programs coming?
Net metering of solar energy works fine in California, where it
increasingly provides electricity to meet peak demand.
Georgia has a 2001 law that requires power utilities to do
a version of net metering, but it’s a weak version and there’s a low
cap on how much you can sell back to the utility.
Net metering is the process whereby an energy consumer produces energy
and then sells some or all of this energy to the “grid”,
energy producers in the state. Under Georgia’s net metering laws,
state residents and businesses can purchase and operate green energy
capital, including photovoltaics, wind energy and fuel cells, and use
this energy on-site. These residents and businesses may then sell any
un-used, additional energy produced on-site to their energy provider.
There is a maximum of 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential applications
and up to 100 kW for commercial applications.
As you can see by GEFA’s pie chart, solar energy was too small to chart
as a source of energy in Georgia as of 2004.
With solar, we can burn less coal and uranium.
Protecting Net energy metering (NEM) is the top policy priority of the
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for California in 2012. NEM
is a billing arrangement that allows utility customers to offset some or
all of their energy use (up to 1 MW) with selfgenerated renewable energy.
The definition sounds the same, except for the cap: 1 megawatt
is 1000 kilowatts, so California’s current cap is 100 times the Georgia
residential cap and 10 times the Georgia commercial cap, with
apparently no distinction between residential and commercial.