Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
Commercial and industrial energy users who have already taken initiative to reduce their electricity consumption learned on Tuesday how they can further help to reduce energy use in the province when demand on the power grid is greatest.
Aaron Arsenault from EnerNOC, an energy management service provider, spoke at Festival Hydro’s annual awards breakfast about the Demand Response program, an Ontario Power Authority-funded initiative.
Arsenault said the program is unique in that it requires little to no capital investment while offering risk-free incentives to participating companies that help reduce electricity use during peak demand periods.
In the past, the province has built more power plants in an effort to ensure the power stays on at all times.
“It’s become a very difficult problem to solve,” Arsenault said, of making sure the grid can accommodate the higher demand.
A less expensive and cleaner alternative, the Demand Response program works by having thousands of companies – acting like a “virtual power plant,” he noted – reduce their consumption all at once.
Each company works with EnerNOC to develop a reduction strategy that is manageable, meaning the changes made when called upon can be as small as turning off non-essential lighting or increasing the air conditioning by a few degrees, or as large as shutting off equipment altogether.
“You don’t have to build a wind turbine and you don’t have to burn coal,” Arsenault added, noting the program is initiated about six times a year during the summer, but never during weekends or mornings, and lasts for four hours.
Participants receive payments both for their commitment to reduce load and for the actual load reduction measured when the program is initiated.
“From your standpoint it is very simple,” Arsenault said. “Continue to hit your targets and continue to get paid.”
Following the presentation, Festival Hydro handed out awards to its customers who have successfully completed projects through Ontario’s Retrofit, High Performance New Construction and Process and Systems programs during the 2011-12 calendar year. On hand to congratulate them were area MPPs Randy Pettapiece and Lisa Thompson.
Awards of excellence were handed out to the following companies, which had the highest demand and annual electrical consumption savings:
• Sun-North Systems Limited, for lighting retrofits
• Loblaws Inc – Zehrs Stratford, for lighting retrofits
• Arden Park hotel, for lighting retrofits
• Nutreco Canada – Shur-Gain, for lighting retrofits and process changes
• Dyna-Mig, for equipment upgrades and lighting retrofits
• Royal Bank of Canada – Stratford facility, new construction incentive for energy efficient buildings