Extreme record heat is expected in the US this summer – here’s how you can help keep the electrical grid balanced to avoid blackouts and brownouts.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned last month that “two-thirds of North America is at risk of energy shortfalls this summer during periods of extreme demand.”
So it’s crucial for the grid’s supply and demand to be balanced in order for it to work reliably, safely, and consistently. There are a number of things that consumers and businesses can do to help keep the lights (and AC) on.
Demand Response to avoid US blackouts
Demand Response is when organizations and homeowners reduce or shift their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives to balance supply and demand.
For example, many utilities make it cheaper for homeowners to charge EVs during off-peak hours as an incentive to alleviate stress on the grid.
Molly Jerrard, head of demand response for Enel North America, told Electrek in an interview:
Most American consumers take their electric supply for granted, but people are beginning to clue in and join programs.
With solutions like demand response, customers can improve the economics of their energy use by leveraging flexibility.
Ask your utility, “What can I do as a consumer to contribute?” You can work with Enel North America or another demand response provider, too.
Distributed Energy Resources
The US also needs to continue to adopt distributed energy resources (DERs) to avoid blackouts and brownouts, such as rooftop solar and battery storage that feeds back into the grid. A DER is a small-scale power generation unit that operates locally and is connected to a larger power grid at the distribution level.
Customers that have DERs usually pay less for their electricity because they sell power back to the grid.
One example of a DER is Green Mountain Power’s Tesla Powerwall program in Vermont, in which customers share power in their Powerwalls with GMP during peak energy times, and they also have backup energy storage if the power does go out. Customers lease two Powerwalls from GMP for $55 a month. It’s proven so popular that it’s booked until 2025, so GMP has asked to have the cap removed on the number of customers that can enroll per year (it’s currently at 500).
Check with your utility to see what kinds of programs they offer – doing your part to achieve grid resilience is worth it.
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Author: Michelle Lewis