Conventional demand response doesn't apply well to electricity. According to Smart Grid News, as demand increases prices might spike in a traditional market, but with power, high-demand is being met with efficiency and self-sustainability efforts instead.
In a traditional power utility set up, a consumer may pay a steady fee year-round, unaware of seasonal changes to the cost of power generation and market demand. However, this threatens the reliability of these networks because consumers continue to draw high amounts of electricity regardless of peak demand or seasonal challenges. This creates a power emergency, and one that those consumers sometimes never see. However, improving technology has allowed providers to contain these risks and better control their networks. Enter smart grids, and utility provider's ability to regulate consumer demand.
Smart grids don't just improve the flow of information between consumer and provider, they enable provider-regulated controls that help minimize power use during times of peak demand in ways that consumers will barely notice. A firm may switch off water heaters for short periods of time or dim a client's lights in order to reduce electricity usage, while reducing demand on the power grid itself. This helps to improve stability and flow of service, but can also reduce consumer bills over time.
According to the news source, the potential savings aren't small either. PJM Interconnect, the world's largest power market provider, has been able to reduce power costs for its customers by as much as $650 million in a single month from these efforts. As more utility providers look to implement smart grids and the necessary media converters and similar technology that make these solutions possible, these savings will spread.
Demand response and smart grid controls allow providers to regulate usage and save resources, but also improve the environment. Increased use of natural resources to provider electricity become taxed when peak demand times aren't managed, resulting in more pollution and a greater carbon footprint. It also helps providers ensure they are meeting demand when citizens need it most.
"If the state experiences another extreme heat wave like the summer of 2011, [it] would most likely face a challenge to meet peak demand," Navigant Consulting, a research firm exploring power crises in Texas, noted. "In Texas, demand response is seen as the first line of defense to beat the heat."
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