Thursday, August 20, 2009

Temporarily Mismanaging Demand Management in Atlanta

We've been having a heat wave up in Boston this week, which makes us more empathetic about this recent snafu in Atlanta. With Smart Grid-like configurations, technology can be a force multiplier to achieve great new capabilities ... as well as amplify the negative consequences of human error. In this case, it was a relatively short loss of household AC. But I'm sure you get the point.

And how did folks happen to part of this demand management program in the first place? They responded to the following very reasonable Duke Energy entreaty to save some dough:
Why Sign Up - Depending on which Power Manager option you choose, you will receive a one-time credit of $25 or $35 on your bill just for signing up. You will receive a credit on your electric bill whenever we use the Power Manager device to turn your air conditioning unit off and then automatically back on. You are helping to preserve the environment and keep electric costs low by reducing the demand for electricity and delaying the need to build additional power plants in our region.
How the Program Works - Duke Energy will install a free load management switch next to your air conditioner on the outside of your home. This radio-controlled device will cycle your air conditioner off and on when demand is especially high. Depending upon the option you choose, your air conditioner is cycled off and then back on approximately one time each half hour, for the length of the cycling event. Cycling events will not normally exceed a four to six hour time frame and will not occur on weekends or holidays (except in a system emergency). To help keep you comfortable, the indoor fan continues to run to circulate air throughout your home.
Hopefully we'll get to make and learn from lots of small, relatively benign mistakes before the consequences become much greater. And become much greater they surely will ...

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