Managing peak power demand

111 Sussex, Ottawa

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.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “Managing peak power demand”

  1. I have an idea to reduce peak power demand: Ban long sleeve shirts indoors between june and september in offices. Ban them. Fine coorperations unwilling to comply. Also ban pants. No pants!

  2. “As more and more renewable energy enters the grid, it gets increasingly difficult to match supply and demand 24/7. The answer of German power company Lichtblick and Volkswagen is a swarm of 100,000 flexible base-load generators. These fridge-sized CHP (Combined Heat and Power) generators that will be installed in people’s basements in Hamburg starting early next year will feed electricity into the grid and the waste heat into their home’s water/heating. The “ZuhauseKraftwerk” (HomePowerPlant) features a vanilla VW Golf natural-gas engine that generates 20kW electrical and 34 kW heat with an efficiency of 92%. The units are remotely controlled via a mobile network or DSL; they can ramp up in a minute if needed. A water tank ensures that heat is continuously available, while electricity is produced on demand. The swarm will replace two nuclear plants, they say. And your old oil heating needed replacement anyway.”

  3. “In theory, having some control over the energy usage of those customers gave Ontario’s power providers the ability to reduce peak demand by up to 180 megawatts.

    But in practice, this rarely happened.

    According to the IESO the program was activated province-wide just 21 times, including twice in the last week during a rare September heat wave.

    Toronto Hydro occasionally activated the program locally, as it did during flooding in July 2013.

    But in Ottawa, where some 34,000 Hydro Ottawa customers subscribed to the program, Peaksaver only came into play during province-wide activations, or during some of the two dozen test activations the IESO ran during the program’s decade in service.”

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