Post tagged with "grid stability"

Our Thinking

The Politics of Power: 3 hot-button energy issues fueling ‘House of Cards’, Season Two

  • By Aaron Tinjum and Barry Fischer
  • February 25, 2014

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t finished watching (or, perhaps “binging”) Season Two of “House of Cards,” and wish to avoid finding out what happens in certain episodes, you may want to hold off on reading this.

Netflix’s “House of Cards” has captivated the nation. Viewers have been brought to the edge of their seats as Frank Underwood – a fictitious national politician from South Carolina — ruthlessly deals and plots his way to the upper echelons of American power.

In Season Two, a different kind of power also takes center stage — that of the U.S. electric grid. In the midst of high-stakes political drama, the show draws attention to a number of hot-button energy issues, including grid stability, utility customer satisfaction, and federal regulation. While “House of Cards” is a fictional program, all these issues do have a basis in reality and are important components of our energy landscape. Here are a few of those issues, along with some explanations that will make you a savvier viewer of the show…

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Our Thinking

Everything’s bigger in Texas…including the potential for demand response

  • By Richard Caperton
  • February 20, 2014

When we flip on a light switch, we expect the lights to come on.

Of course, many things can go wrong. A storm could knock out power lines, a car could crash into a transformer, a grid operator could mismanage the system, or solar flares could fry the entire power grid.

Those are some of the more exciting scenarios. But, another reason — that doesn’t get as much public attention — is that there aren’t enough power plants to meet demand at any particular time.

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Hot and heavy energy usage: How the demand and price for electricity skyrocketed on a 100° day

  • By Barry Fischer
  • September 5, 2012

The passage of Labor Day sadly marks the end of backyard BBQs and pool parties, but for many people it may also come as a relief: a brutally hot summer is finally coming to an end.

The first half of the year was the hottest ever recorded in the contiguous US. July 2012 became the hottest July on record. And in communities across the country, more than 27,000 daily high-temperature records have been broken or tied so far this year.

Across the river from Opower headquarters, Washington DC faced 11 consecutive days that hit or exceeded 95 degrees…it was the city’s most intense heat wave in 141 years of keeping temperature records.

Thankfully, air conditioners keep us cool and comfortable during these sizzling summer days. More than 60% of US households now have central air conditioning, up from 23% in the late 1970s. But the luxury of A/C comes at an obvious cost: higher electricity consumption.  Exactly how much higher? We found that the average home’s electricity usage on a 103°-high summer day is up to 40% higher than during a typical summer day.

How do we know? We cracked open our data warehouse to examine anonymized energy usage data across 18,000 homes from 3 different cities in the western part of US, which has faced blistering temperatures this summer.  In particular, we explored a few key questions about energy consumption on hot days:

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