Demand Response Helps ERCOT and CPS during Extreme Winter Weather

This month offered our company a unique way to help out during the extreme cold that swept much of the nation in February. As I have mentioned in my series of BLOGs on “Being Green,” we have tried to utilize a number of solutions to help lower our energy usage and deliver ROI to our company. One of the programs I mentioned in a prior post was related to participating in our local demand response program. Through this program, we curtail power usage by coming off the grid and generating our own power for a period of time. While this is something we normally do during the summer months (when temperatures can reach into the 100s), we have never been asked to do this during the winter months before.

Starting on February 2, we received notices from CPS (our local energy provider) that ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) was calling a “Power Emergency.” In order to prevent blackouts, CPS asked everyone to shut off non-essential services and curtail usage. They also began dropping circuits for 30-45 minute increments, classified as a rolling brownout. The amount of power being shed in our area amounted to 7 percent of the Texas electric load, or about 70,000 customers that would be without power. It’s our understanding that this problem was precipitated by the extremely cold temperatures, but exacerbated because a number of power plants in the state were currently offline for overhaul and maintenance.

After receiving this notice, we shut down non-essential systems and also switched over to our generator so that we could take additional load off of the grid. Though these measures may be small, I was glad we were in a position to do something to improve the situation. If your company is not currently participating in a demand response program, I highly recommend looking into it as there are important benefits for everyone involved.