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Plan for Peak Power Demand

Thu, 05/04/2023 - 09:55

East Hampton Town is expected to participate in a new and expanded demand response program this summer, with eight town-owned buildings reducing stress on the electrical grid during periods of peak demand by switching to on-site emergency propane generators for brief periods.

Representatives of Voltus, a firm that connects distributed energy resources to electricity markets, pitched a plan to the town board on Tuesday that would expand the town’s participation in reducing peak demand, which typically happens for a few hours during the hottest days of summer. The town, Matthew Carmody told the board, would likely realize around $12,500 in payments from PSEG Long Island, which manages the electrical grid on the Long Island Power Authority’s behalf, and the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the flow of electricity throughout the state, for voluntarily reducing the use of electricity from the grid for up to a total of 30 hours when demand is highest.

The town previously worked with the Applied Energy Group consultancy, under which the Parks and Building Maintenance Department building, the food pantry, and the Police Department garage on the Town Hall campus, as well as the senior citizens center on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton, turned on propane generators to reduce stress on the grid during peak demand periods. That contract ended last year. Where that arrangement required a town staffer to physically go to the buildings and manually switch on the generators, Voltus offers a software-based, automated system, allowing an expansion of buildings to the program. Via an electronic “dashboard,” town officials will be able to see the net emissions avoided by participating in the demand response program.

This year, should the town board agree to the proposal, all buildings on the Town Hall campus would participate, as would the senior citizens center and Highway Department building, also on Springs-Fireplace Road, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said. The Justice Court building, on the Town Hall campus, is a particularly large consumer of energy, Samantha Klein of the Natural Resources Department said. Taking that building off the grid during a heat wave will significantly help alleviate grid demand, she said.

Peak demand usually occurs for one to four hours between 3 and 7 p.m., and typically happens six to eight times during the summer. “Your generators are very valuable assets to the grid when they need them,” Mr. Carmody said. 

In addition to alleviating stress on the electrical grid when demand is highest, the use of the town’s propane generators precludes use of dirtier, coal-fired “peaker plants” that operate during periods of highest demand, Mr. Carmody told the board. Though propane is also a fossil fuel, it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

The Voltus program is similar to the South Fork Peak Savers load relief program, under which the town committed to operate its standby emergency generators by and at the direction of AEG, then under contract with PSEG Long Island, during anticipated peak demand periods.

The program will run from June 1 through September, with a May 15 deadline for the town to register for it. The town can opt out at any time. The board is expected to vote on a resolution to opt in on Tuesday.

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