Currently, there are two developmental shifts taking place in New England concerning the electricity grid:
- The grid is shifting from conventional generation to renewable energy.
- The grid is also shifting from centrally dispatched generation to distributed energy resources.
What was formerly a traditional power system is becoming a hybrid system with electricity needs met by both conventional resources (natural gas-fired generators dependent on just-in-time deliveries of fuel) and large-scale renewable resources (weather-dependent wind and solar) connected to the regional transmission system. New England’s hybrid system will also include thousands of small resources connected directly to retail customers or local distribution companies.
As this new hybrid grid emerges, maintaining reliable power system operations will become more complex due to new resources facing familiar constraints on energy production. The good news is that New England has a lineup of demand response programs at both the ISO and utility levels that provide answers to these complexities.
ISO-NE Curtailment Program
The purpose of the Active Demand Capacity Resource (ADCR) program is to facilitate load reduction during a “capacity deficiency” on the electric power grid in the New England Control area. Capacity deficiencies can occur whenever a grid stress condition occurs, such as extreme weather, unplanned generator outages, and other infrequent upset conditions.
Participants in the ADCR program agree to curtail a certain load level within 30 minutes of a request by the grid operator, ISO-New England. In addition, participants earn monthly capacity payments for making their facilities available to reduce electrical load when directed by ISO-NE.
National Grid, Eversource, Liberty, and Unitil currently have a program called Connected Solutions. This program pays participants to use less energy when the grid is peaking during the summer (June through September) months. Peak usage periods are generally caused by the combination of high temperatures and high humidity during the workweek. By reducing overall peak energy demand during these times, we can help decrease the need for infrastructure upgrades and minimize carbon emissions.
Participants receive a day-ahead notice to curtail usage in the following day’s afternoon. The utility pays an incentive to the participant at the end of the summer that is based on the participant’s average kilowatt reduction. Curtailing for these utility programs can also lead to a lowering of capacity charges on a utility bill. It is expected that this type of program will be sponsored by additional New England utilities later in 2022, continuing into 2023.
Value Delivered through Demand Response
The value of 1 MW of curtailment in these demand-side management programs is worth over $105,000/MW over the next 5 years. Payments would be proportional to how much a site can curtail within the dispatch window, and lowering your capacity tag is included in this figure.
Driving a Clean and Dependable Energy Future
There is a wide range of approaches to effectively investing in your energy management strategy. Demand response not only provides financial benefits and an advantage when it comes to sustainability, renewables, and resilience, but it can also help local New England communities rely less on inefficient, fossil-fuel peaker plants during times of peaking customer load.
With these proven benefits, the time is now for organizations throughout New England and across all industries — manufacturing, healthcare, education, municipalities, government, agriculture, retail, and all — to join the more than 12,000 sites across the U.S. that are already participating and enabling a clean and dependable future.