In the world of load control, timing is everything.
What are the prices when you are purchasing energy from the energy market? What resources are available during peak load conditions? What are the weather impacts during the cold-weather months?
“Market price volatility is driven by weather and generator outages. These events drive the majority of the control hours,” said Todd Sailer, Minnkota Power Cooperative senior manager of power supply & resource planning.
Sailer said Minnkota, your cooperative’s wholesale energy supplier, estimates 140 hours of dual-heat load control this winter. This compares to the 10-year average of 180 hours and last year’s total of 62 hours.
“The market conditions are very similar to last year and we do expect the temperatures to be a little colder than they were last year,” Sailer said.
During outages and periods of peak electric demand, Minnkota’s first option is to purchase energy from the power market.
“Right now we have some scheduled outages for the first part of December and then again in the spring,” Sailer said. “So we typically do not schedule maintenance in the January and February time frame when we’re at peak conditions. That’s where the unplanned or forced outages come into play.”
If the timing is not right and affordable power is not available, off-peak loads are temporarily controlled. The savings are passed on to members through the lower off-peak heating rate.
“Controlling load during these periods protects consumers from the volatility of the market and prevents the need to build new power plants just to serve peak loads,” Sailer said.
Minnkota has the ability to control up to 350 megawatts through its demand response system. This includes temporarily controlling storage heating systems, large-capacity water heaters, home vehicle chargers and large industrial consumers with backup generators. Millions of dollars have been saved due to the successful operation of Minnkota’s load management system for nearly 40 years.
An off-peak system consists of an electric heating source as its primary component. A supplemental heating source must operate several hundred hours or more during the winter season. Sailer said members with a well-maintained backup heating system should not notice a difference in comfort level when their off-peak heating system is controlled.