With Ontario's first significant summer heat upon us, peaksaver, a residential and small business electricity demand reduction program that temporarily powers down central air conditioning systems was activated for the first time provincewide in early July.
It's estimated that the program, designed and administered by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and co-ordinated by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), saved in excess of 40 megawatts during a day in which temperatures reached as high as 32 degrees and the humidex went as high as 38 in some parts of the province. The 40 MW of peak reduction is equivalent to the peak electricity requirements of about 10,000 homes. peaksaver will be activated throughout the summer as needed to mitigate peak demand.
"We are committed to ensuring that Ontario has the power it needs during times of peak electricity demand," said George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. "That’s why more than 3,700 megawatts of clean, new supply has come on line since 2003, and it is why conservation and demand management are central to this government’s energy plan. The OPA’s peaksaver program is an important part of that focus, and a simple, easy way for Ontarians to help cut overall demand on hot days. I’d like to thank every Ontarian who is already a peaksaver participant and encourage those who are still thinking about it to sign up today."
With peaksaver, participating homeowners and small businesses volunteer to have a device (thermostat or switch) installed to allow a wireless signal to temporarily cycle air conditioning on and off with minimal impact on comfort levels; they receive $25 to have the device installed and the overall system saves money as a result. The program is offered by 47 local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) across the province. More than 80,000 homes and businesses have signed up so far.
"peaksaver is part of a portfolio of conservation programs funded by the OPA to enable Ontario to better manage its demand for electricity during the summer and all year round," said Paul Shervill, OPA Vice President, Conservation and Sector Development. "We expect peaksaver to contribute significantly to our demand management efforts and it will be complemented by our Demand Response 3 (DR 3) program, which targets large industrial loads, later this summer."
Residents who participated in targeted activations of peaksaver last summer reported that they hardly noticed when a cycle-down had taken place. During the four-hour period when an activation has occurred there is only a very small rise in temperature because air conditioners are only turned down, not off entirely. Over the course of a summer, it’s anticipated that peaksaver will be activated about 10 times. With some participating LDCs, peaksaver can also be applied to reduce the power consumed by electric water heaters in homes with central air conditioning.
By the end of this year, the OPA expects to be offering 26 conservation programs in total. As part of the OPA’s Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP), it has been proposed that Ontario invest $10.2 billion in conservation over 20 years. The OPA is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term, leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province, ensuring development of needed generation resources and supporting the continued commercial evolution of the electricity sector.