If you live on the East Coast and Midwest you know it’s that time of year again when temperatures suddenly spike and you can’t walk around the block without needing a shower.
Along with excessive sweat, this heat-wave-prone season brings added strain to the power grid, threatening brownouts and even blackouts if we don’t intelligently manage our energy use.
But last week, a record breaking heat wave hit the Midwest and then moved east to New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And this is no normal summer heat wave. In this month alone, more than 1000 records that have been set or tied and at its peak last week, approximately 132 million people were placed under a heat alert, according to the National Weather Service.
But with some ingenuity it’s completely possible to keep the lights and A/C units on, even when energy use reaches record highs.
Take last week for example. Our team worked tirelessly to quickly respond to the surge in demand that threatened grid reliability in 15 eastern states. Working with local utilities and grid operators, we executed 54 mandatory curtailment programs that delivered more than 1,250 megawatts (MW) of reduced electricity demand. The net result, we were able to help keep the lights on (and the cold air blowing) for more than 944,000 homes and 832 commercial and industrial sites.
While the results of last week’s efforts clearly speak for themselves, the role for intelligent energy management solutions goes far beyond helping out during heat waves. I’ve talked before about how extreme weather is becoming all too familiar these days, and as this past winter showed, we were on hand to help when snow and ice storms threatened power supplies to Texas homes and businesses.
So while the weather is as unpredictable as ever, the role for intelligent energy management solutions in our nation’s energy mix is becoming clearer and clearer.
I’m honored to be in the nation’s capital today, participating in the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid 2011. The event gathers the leaders who determine the nation’s energy future, and it’s an honor to be included among them.
It’s a wonderful opportunity I have today, to speak about energy regulation on a panel alongside Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of FERC; Patricia Hoffman, Secretary for Electricity at the Department of Energy; Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund; and Tammy McLeod, Chief Customer Officer at Arizona Public Service. We’ll discuss the current regulatory framework for the energy industry, what lies ahead, and how these mandates will change the market.
It’s a hot topic, regulation, and for good reason: it determines the future of the Smart Grid. I’ve blogged before about the changing regulatory landscape that shapes the development of the smart grid. These regulations have helped the nation to prioritize energy efficiency by supporting solutions like demand response. Recent developments include FERC establishing price parity between DR and generation resources, and subsequently finding unjust PJM’s proposed reductions in compensation for “negawatts” generated from DR solutions.
Beyond FERC, the government clearly prioritizes energy conservation and innovation. President Obama’s Council of Advisors has called for a new nationwide energy policy, one that emphasizes research and development, environmental consciousness, and economic competitiveness. Supporting Smart Grid development lies at the heart of the administration’s goals, as evidenced by Department of Agriculture initiatives to upgrade electric grids in rural areas, and Department of Energy efforts to encourage Smart Grid privacy and security measures.
With regulations that support Smart Grid innovation and encourage the implementation of DR solutions, the clean energy sector will flourish. I’m excited to join the conversation with the government officials and industry leaders working to put these necessary regulations in place.
Hope to see you at the roundtable, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share perspectives throughout this great event.