Readers may recall an earlier discussion about how moderating peak electricity demand serves climate change mitigation objectives. One mechanism presently operating towards this end is the PeakSAVER program, run by Toronto Hydro. According to WWF Canada:
Research commissioned by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in 2003 found that peak-shaving programs could reduce peak demand by ten per cent, equivalent to the output of three of Ontario’s four remaining coal plants, and that a mere one per cent reduction in peak demand would have saved Ontario consumers $170 million in the previous year.
The PeakSAVER program allows Toronto Hydro to remotely turn down thousands of air conditioners and water heaters across the city. This is done within set limits, preventing air from exceeding certain temperatures and hot water from falling below them.
Another upshot of such programs is that they could be used to help overcome the limitations of renewable power. At times when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, electricity could flow unimpeded. At times where supply exceeds demand, non-essential usage could be throttled back, or variable pricing could be used to induce consumer action.