Emergency Demand Management – Why Your Critical Facility Should Participate.

Posted by Eric Reichel, Vice President Product & Operations on Nov 10, 2015 10:00:00 AM
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Brad Witter, President of Blue Pillar, on Demand Response video

This blog is a part one of a two-part series on why critical facilities can increase grid stability and financial return by participating in Emergency Demand Management programs.

Demand Response (DR) was first introduced in the United States during the 1970’s to encourage residential consumers to reduce the amount of energy they used from periods of peak demand to off-peak. Since then, there have been significant advances in technology, increases in the amount of demand placed on the grid and a number of new programs that have been introduced, which can increase the resiliency of the grid while benefiting critical facilities that require 100% uptime. A lot has changed since 1970. In this blog series, we take a deeper dive into Emergency Demand Management programs available today as they relate to — and benefit — critical and complex facilities to dispel some myths, including why Emergency Demand Management programs should not be confused with DR.

Emergency Demand Management is Not about the Thermostat

Enrolling in an Emergency Demand Management program is not like enrolling in a traditional DR program because it absolutely will not require you to change a thing about your facility’s electricity use. Enrollment in Emergency Demand Management can be achieved without having to adjust energy use, impact occupant comfort or touch the building’s thermostats or ventilation systems. Occupants never know the emergency backup generation system is in use, and better yet, the action to participate helps avoided an unforeseen power outage.

Early DR programs focused on asking consumers to reduce electricity use during times of high grid consumption to maintain grid stability (usually by turning off lights or becoming more energy efficient). In exchange for reducing a consumer’s load on the grid when needed, the consumer receives a capacity payment based on the amount of load they reduce. But this type of DR is not enough — especially in many regions where demand may outweigh supply in high energy-use periods (such as during a heat wave). During these grid emergencies, critical facility owners with onsite generation can actually stabilize the grid by reverting to their back-up power. Because critical facilities — such as hospitals or data centers — require constant electricity to ensure that they can operate when needed to ensure patient safety, or provide 100% data assurance, traditional DR programs have not been a viable option. However, Emergency Demand Management is perfectly suited for critical facilities that would be impacted by an outage in any event because it requires infrequent calls for participation and is used to avoid an outage, which would be far more detrimental to the facility and community.

Participating in Emergency Demand Management Gives You Advanced Notice of Outages for Added Resiliency

Emergency Demand Management programs stabilize the grid. They are successfully used to avoid involuntary service interruptions (e.g. power outages, brown outs) during times of supply scarcity. In the event of a grid emergency, the local utility provides participating critical facilities with an advanced warning, which can vary from a day-ahead to as little as 10 minutes but is invaluable in providing notification of an impending grid interruption or failure before it occurs. Therefore, those who participate in Emergency Demand Management know about the potential outage first and have time to switch over to their backup generation power supply to stabilize the grid and avoid the outage. Ensuring facility resiliency is a top priority for critical facilities such as hospitals. The images of these facilities impacted by grid failure during severe weather emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy, will not soon be forgotten.  Although emergency programs are called infrequently, participants receive a very lucrative payment for being on standby and often can receive a second payment based on the amount of energy they provided back to the grid during the event. This effort improves local communities and benefits utilities that are grateful to have predictable back-up capacity available to avoid service disruptions. This benefits the utilities and communities as well because critical facilities such as hospitals and data centers are the largest consumers of energy on the grid.

Advances in technology also play a role in this resiliency. The technology that connects to facility equipment and automates enrollment in Emergency Demand Management programs allows backup power systems to automatically start up and transition to backup power once this notification is received, instead of waiting for the power to go out. These new technologies and software programs also notify facility management in advance of any potential failures or mechanical problems. This provides increased resiliency in order to get up and running before the power goes out.

This technology also provides added resiliency by monitoring and testing equipment and performing automated remote EPSS testing and documentation to meet requirements. According to GTM Research’s 2014 US Demand Response Market Outlook “IOT technology is enabling a larger number of loads to be cost-effectively included in (Emergency Demand Management) programs in a way that is less disruptive to the end customer by employing new analytics methods to ensure better control.”

Emergency Demand Management helps a facility prepare in advance for an impending power outage and can minimize compliance testing. So if your facility could be an active contributor to the community’s grid stability in the event of an emergency by strengthening the grid, simplifying compliance testing and getting paid to run your generators, why wouldn’t you participate?

Learn more >>>  Hear Brad Witter, President of Blue Pillar, speak about Demand Response.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQX06NHzrJw

Or contact our team at 1-888-234-3212 to learn how to leverage these programs in your area.  

Topics: Energy Management, Emergency Power Management, Healthcare Facilities