Panel Preview: Managing Demand

The new EPA Clean Power Plan calls to cut power plant emissions by nearly a third, which will mean changing the way we generate power as well as how we use it. We spoke with David Pospisil (Con Edison) for a rundown of what it means to manage energy demand in New York City ahead of next week’s Facility Upgrades for Better Demand Management panel, part of the ASHRAE Integration Series.

“Demand is a moving target as neighborhoods change and the growth of energy usage accelerates,” says Pospisil. Where a few decades ago tenants were once advised to shut the lights off when they left, now they must remember to turn off lights, computers, and the three TVs now found in the average household; not to leave laptop, phones, tablets, and now smart watches charging; and to shut off A/C units before heading out.

Demand is also in constant flux geographically: the neighborhoods using the most energy today may not be the ones using it tomorrow. “Peak demand has shifted as areas like the Financial District transition from almost 100% commercial properties to a heavy residential presence. Our network-level Brooklyn Queens Demand Management area has a long summer peak that extends for 12 hours due to its mix of commercial and residential properties. This type of mix means that there is no single technology that can be deployed to reduce the peak demand.”

Where those peak areas are located has a big impact on the systems built to cater to them. “Peak demand drives sizing of the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, so as we improve our ability to manage demand, we reduce the need to overbuild the infrastructure to handle a load that only occurs for 24 hours a year.”

But what are the biggest drivers of demand in those areas? “Peak demand in our territory is primarily driven by air conditioning during the summer months,” says Pospisil. But techniques to manage demand mean big opportunities to mitigate the impact those peaks have on our energy use. “More efficient cooling equipment and more sophisticated control of that equipment help to reduce demand,” he says. Changing standards can also have a significant impact. “The recommendations for data center temperature requirements have risen in recent years as IT technology has gotten more heat tolerant. An increase of 10 degrees in these facilities can have a substantial impact on the system peak.”

More demand management options mean more decisions for utility customers, however. “When developing an energy strategy, the landlord and building managers need to decide how involved they want to be with their energy supply,” says Pospisil. For instance, do they want to generate their own power, manage their own storage assets, et cetera? “The choice of operating in-house energy systems versus procuring these types of service from other outside suppliers really determines what the energy strategy looks like.”

Discuss this issue further with Pospisil, Mark McCracken (CALMAC) and Eugene Garcia (ECM Energy Management) at the Center for Architecture on Monday, August 17th.

About the authors

Urban Green Council
Dedicated to transforming buildings for a sustainable future.