Facility Pros Offer Summer Building Management Strategies As Grid Brownouts Near

 

As we transition from the mild temperatures of spring into the sweltering heat of summer, regions across the country, particularly states with at-risk grids like Texas, brace for the inevitable increase in energy demand. The demand for sweet, sweet air conditioning is sure to put extra pressure on state-specific energy grids, meaning consumers and businesses alike are at risk of brownouts and blackoouts. How should facility managers and property owners start strategizing now for summer building management?

For example, Texas’ Public Utility Commission Chair Peter Lake recently issued a warning that the Texas power grid could experience outages this summer if wind turbines fail to meet demand, meaning both residences and businesses could lose power during critical hours in the day. In response, he’s advocated for the development of more on-demand power sources like natural gas plants and batteries to enhance grid reliability. Renewable energy supporters, instead, emphasize the need for demand reduction and resist the narrative that grid reliability is solely dependent on renewables. This comes as the state’s growing population and economy increase energy demand, necessitating a greater reliance on renewables.

As we face the impending summer cooling season, Jon Bolen, CEO of ENTOUCH Controls, offers some strategic advice for summer building management that could provide a crucial lifeline for facility professionals.

 

Jon’s Thoughts

“The beginning of May tends to mark the end of shoulder season, and in many parts of the country, milder temperatures, low humidity will yield to increasingly higher temperatures and higher humidity. Areas of the country like California and Texas will see an intense demand for energy resulting in strain on the grid. All too familiar impacts on consumers include brownouts…. If you’re in a hot spot like 2021 right here in Texas, those blackouts can be extended.

Businesses can prepare for this inevitability in a number of ways, but at ENTOUCH, we see two in particular. First, economically. Second, distributed energy resources. Economically speaking, utilities offer a number of programs that incentivize their customers to minimize their demand during peak times on the grid. These programs can be quite lucrative for businesses that are located in high demand and can minimize some of their energy load. Similarly, some utilities use customer demand profiles to charge significantly more during periods of high demand. We encourage our operators to work with their EMS provider to participate in demand response programs and mitigate their overall demand profile.

Second, an increasing number of businesses are installing distributed energy resources, like local solar power generation, local natural gas power generators, and related battery storage. Any resource that can remove your location partially or totally from the grid during peak times can protect your business from interruption during a blackout and potentially high demand charges. These are just two of the areas that ENTOUCH would encourage businesses to look at with the summer cooling season upon us.”

Article written by Daniel Litwin.

 

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