Businesses and light industries will be paid to not use electricity during the peak-use summer months under a program approved Monday by the Salt River Project’s Board of Directors.
SRP will pay $10.8 million to EnerNOC, a Boston-based company, over three years to manage the program. EnerNOC, which is shorthand for Energy Network Operations Center, in turn will send checks to companies and business sites that agree voluntarily to have their electricity supply reduced when demand is greatest.
Details of the demand-response program remain to be worked out with EnerNOC, but SRP hopes to save 60 megawatts of power by the third year, said Debbie Kimberly, SRP’s manager of energy efficiency. That’s enough electricity to serve about 13,500 homes.
“This will allow us to finalize the negotiations with EnerNOC and then allow them to approach customers,” Kimberly said.
Under the new program, EnerNOC would sign up large commercial customers such as Wal-Mart and would install equipment at their store sites within the SRP service territory. During a hot summer day when air conditioners are running full blast and electricity demand is highest, SRP could ask EnerNOC to reduce some of the load on its system. From a control center in San Francisco EnerNOC could cut some power to the stores, such as turning off alternate banks of lights. But the stores would remain open and customers would not be inconvenienced, Kimberly said.
“At a Big Lots store in California where this was tried, they shed alternating banks of lights. There was plenty of day lighting in the store, and customers were unaware that lights had gone out,” she said.
The amount paid to each business participant would be determined by negotiation, and each business would have a custom-designed plan that would create as little disruption as possible to its operations, Kimberly said.
SRP will save money in the long run because it will not have to buy as much expensive power on the wholesale market or build as many new power plants, she said.
“This gives us an extra tool in our toolkit,” she said.
Other types of businesses that potentially could use the energy conservation program are grocery stores, hotels, office buildings and light manufacturing plants, said Tim Healy, chief executive of EnerNOC.
He doesn’t anticipate his company will have any trouble signing up customers in the Valley.
“If our activity in Arizona is anything like it’s been in other regions of the United States . . . our experience has been fantastic in those regions,” he said.
EnerNOC has about 1,800 megawatts under management at more than 3,400 individual customer sites across the nation, he said. That’s the equivalent of one-and-a-half nuclear power plants the company has saved so far.
“I think we’re in a period of shifting from the early stages of this industry to broad, widespread adoption,” he said.