08 25, 2023

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July 2023 was the hottest month on record for the planet, as well as many states and regions in North America. Specifically, areas like Texas and Arizona have been under a heat dome that set records for the most 100+ degree Fahrenheit days in a row for over 30 days, at the time of this writing. The extreme heat is challenging the grid, residents, and businesses in these regions. 

However, the situation could have been much worse if the grid did not have enough generating capacity and demand side resources to meet soaring consumer demand for power to keep the lights on and air conditioners running. 

Let’s look at several examples where this record heat has threatened grid disruption, but the grid bas been able to ensure continuous service so far – due to better planning, the continued support of organizations leveraging their energy flexibility through demand response, and the integration of renewable energy and battery energy storage systems (BESS). 

Preventing a grid emergency in Texas as demand soars

Over the last two months, from June 2023 through August 2023, the Texas grid has witnessed record-breaking activity. As we saw at the end of June, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported a new record peak demand level of 80,828 GW on Tuesday, June 27 – breaking the previous all-time record from just last year. Now, at the time of this writing, ERCOT broke the peak demand record nine times since the record was set in June 2023. On August 10, 2023, ERCOT registered its highest ever peak demand – 85,435 MW.

This unprecedented demand has been largely due to the heat dome that has been crushing the southern United States, causing residents and businesses to rely on air conditioning to stay cool. Resources like demand response, energy flexibility, battery storage, and wind and solar electricity are proving their value this summer, helping the grid remain reliable.

Citing a specific example, ERCOT’s grid was pushed to its limits on August 17, 2023, as reserves ran low due to increased demand. To prevent an outage, ERCOT engaged its emergency system. Working together, demand response, battery storage, and renewable energy assets from Enel prevented a grid emergency:

Poster stats on how Enel helped prevent a Texas power grid emergency

  1. Enel delivered around 320 MWh of electricity from seven of its battery storage systems to the ERCOT grid. As a participant in ERCOT’s Ancillary Services, Enel maintains high availability of its BESS assets, storing up to 325 MW of available electricity that can be discharged to the grid within seconds if needed – enough electricity to power about 65,000 homes during peak demand, according to the grid operator
  2. ERCOT also called on approximately 125 MW of critical load relief from Enel's Emergency Response Service (ERS) demand response portfolio during the event – enough electricity to power about 25,000 homes during peak demand. Thank you to all participants for their help in maintaining the grid. 
  3. Meanwhile, Enel’s renewable portfolio in Texas generated around 22.9 GWh of wind and solar electricity throughout the day, helping keep the lights on.  

Demand response, battery storage, wind, and solar have and continue to make a major difference in grid reliability in Texas. It is important that we continue to invest in these reliable and efficient resources.

Energy flexibility success in Arizona

Another region facing relentless heat throughout the summer is Arizona – specifically Phoenix, which saw over 30 days of 110°F heat in the summer. This unrelenting heat has caused many issues for the residents and businesses in that area. However, we have seen efforts of demand flexibility come into play to keep the grid reliable. 

More than 80 businesses in Phoenix have helped to keep the lights on through their participation in demand response when called upon by the local grid operator, Salt River Project. This summer alone, Enel’s demand response participants delivered over 160 MW to the grid – equivalent to 32,000 homes powered during peak demand. Thank you to all participants in these demand response events for their help in making a difference for the community – these types of efforts and programs remain effective in creating a resilient and reliable electrical grid. 

Demand-side resources remain essential to grid stability

During July, the Enel demand response network was dispatched over 200 times across the United States and Canada, a record for our DR portfolio in a month, all the way from California to Massachusetts. The readiness and ability to modify the electricity usage of our customers helped – and continues to help – maintain the reliability and resilience of the grid. 

These demand-side resources create a virtual power plant by incorporating the demand reduction through energy curtailment or by automatically switching power to an on-site battery energy storage system. The increasing nature of demand response events indicates the necessity and importance of how demand-side resources can make a big difference in creating a sustainable and reliable grid

Enel North America demand response events in July 2023

Bar graph showing Global Enel demand response events in July 2023

How are organizations ensuring readiness for dispatches?

Grid reliability is more than just adding additional generation resources or responding to strain when it occurs. One of the most important and often overlooked steps is for organizations to remain ready and on standby in the event of a potential grid disruption. 

Businesses of all types – from steel manufacturing, distribution warehouses, to even grocery stores – should prepare for grid issues both by shoring up their own operations as well as taking steps that will allow them to quickly respond to a demand response dispatch.

For example:

  • Informing necessary staff to be aware of any dispatch notifications that come through to ensure a timely response
  • Reserving water in holding tanks, like some wastewater treatment plants do when they remain on high alert, so they can quickly and easily hit any energy reduction targets they need to meet

How can your organization participate?

These events are prime examples of the value of clean electrification designed to support an evolving grid in North America. Energy flexibility, storage, and renewables are the heroes of summer 2023. Demand response, battery storage, and wind and solar electricity continue to demonstrate their value to local communities and the grid, working together to support grid sustainability and reliability.

To learn how your organization can become more flexible with its energy use, support your community, or even earn payments for leveraging energy flexibility you already have, contact our team today. Enel can help you by simplifying your energy transition and maximizing value. 

Learn more about advancing your energy strategy by leveraging our integrated energy solutions.