Bonneville Power Taps
by Sara Stroud
A pilot project aims to make the most of wind power's dips and spikes
It's a familiar problem: How will utilities deal with fluctuating power supplies as they add more wind and solar to their energy mixes?
In the Pacific Northwest - where wind power has the potential to meet more than four times the region's electricity needs, according the non-profit Renewable Northwest Project - a new demand response project from EnerNOC and Bonneville Power Administration aims to help tame wind's ups and downs by adjusting power consumption to meet fluctuating supplies.
"Ideally, demand response is the best dancing partner for these intermittent resources," says Gregg Dixon, vice president of marketing for Boston-based EnerNOC.
EnerNOC says it will provide BPA with automated demand response capacity that can respond within 10 minutes when power supplies spike or dip. That's significant because, while in traditional demand response programs, participants cut back their power use when supplies lag, the BPA program will also allow users to suck up the juice when the wind is blowing strong.
"We're not just curtailing load. We're ramping load up," Dixon says. For example, cold storage facilities could take advantage of power supplies to increase ice supplies, essentially storing excess load.
BPA has about 3,000 megawatts of renewable power to date, but could more than triple that amount in the next five years, according to the federal non-profit, which sells wholesale electricity and operates about three-quarters of the Northwest's transmission lines.
Tuesday's announcement was the second in as many weeks for EnerNOC. In late January, it bought M2M Communications, an Idaho-based energy management and demand response company that is one of biggest demand-response providers in California. M2M focuses on bringing demand response to agricultural applications, like irrigation systems and processing equipment. In the U.S., agricultural facilities represent more than 10,000 megawatts of demand response potential, EnerNOC estimates.
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