A Cost-Effective Solution for Utilities and Regulators
Molly Jerrard is Head of Demand Response at Enel North America.
The depths of winter have always posed challenges for utilities, grid operators, and power producers. But as the generation mix evolves and extreme weather worsens, this time of year increasingly provokes serious concerns about reliability.
It doesn't have to be this way. We have the tools we need to build a reliable, affordable — and yes, clean — grid, year-round.
Some of these solutions will require trillions of dollars in capital investment and major adjustments to market design. Some, like long-duration energy storage, will be a game changer for the energy transition, but are still largely in the research and development stage. Utilities and regulators should pay closer attention to the reliability tool with the lowest barrier to entry, and the speediest implementation today: demand response.
Demand response provides tangible, near-term reliability benefits for utilities and grid operators as a complement to longer-term planning for transmission and generation. Unlike capital-intensive infrastructure upgrades or firing up expensive-to-maintain peaker plants, incentive programs for real-time load reduction require relatively little additional infrastructure at load sites.