New Commercial Program Offers High Incentives
Following last August’s rolling blackouts, the California Public Utilities Commission required investor-owned utilities like PG&E to create programs that reduce the stress on the electric grid between May and October each year. Commercial customers can cash in to receive $1/kWh for reducing usage on “critical days” with PG&E’s new Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP).
Here is how it works. PG&E notifies customers of load reduction “events”, typically a day ahead of time but sometimes the same day. Events can occur any day of the week from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and can last anywhere from one to five hours. However, events will total no more than 60 hours per year. Events may be called on consecutive days.
Unplanned outages are disruptive to your business. But planned reduction of electric use may be less disruptive to your business. Proactive steps can be as in-depth as setting controls in an energy management system, deciding to test and run backup generators, or turning off banks of lights and setting thermostats a few degrees higher.
Customers signing up for ELRP must commit to a specific load reduction compared to their normal usage so planning is important. To get paid for reducing load, businesses must have achieved at least 50% of their load reduction commitment. Even though customers cannot opt out of events, they will not be penalized if they don’t meet their demand targets. This means a lower risk of participation with the potential for high rewards. During ELRP events, customers can use what they want to offset load (for example conservation, battery storage, or diesel backup), but they will have to disclose to PG&E the backup generation source they’re using. If you do some arithmetic, you may discover that $1 per kWh will add up quickly to provide big incentives, plus your business will be proactive to help avoid rolling blackouts.
For more information, view FAQs or contact PG&E and Olivine, who is managing PG&E’s ELRP. To enroll, you will need your PG&E account number and meter number.