When demand exceeds supply, fast-acting power plants, known as peakers, are fired up. In New York State, peakers contribute as much as 94% of the state’s NOX emissions on high-ozone days.
The peakers in NYC are primarily located in low-income neighborhoods, where they are linked to many life-threatening illnesses. And, the cost of electricity from them is up to 1,300% more expensive than the average cost of electricity in the rest of the state. In 2019, 79 out of the 89 peaking units in NYC operated for less than 5% of the time (less than 500 hours). Sixty of them ran for less than 1% of the year (less than 100 hours).1
That means that if everyone made small changes, and reduced demand during peak times, peakers would not be spewing the toxic emissions for the few hours they are needed.
Demand response programs offer customers an incentive to control their energy usage during the hours when peakers might be expected to go on.
Meltek is a demand response aggregation for consumers in NYC and Long Island. At its core is a fun and easy energy efficiency engagement program, the Honeycomb Platform. Meltek’s name comes from the Greek word for honey, hence the reference to bees, and honeycombs. We reward customers for their collective effort of saving energy and educate them so they can better participate in reducing their electricity consumption to help the grid and prevent blackouts.
INCREMENTS AS SMALL AS 10 WATTS COUNT
Nearly everyone in NYC has a Smart Meter, and they measure increments as small as 10 watts. Doesn't seem like much, but consider that the population in NYC is 8.5 million.2 If everyone in NYC reduced their consumption by 10 watts, that would prevent 42 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each hour.3 You, your friends, your family, and neighbors can all make a difference towards being a part of the solution. How many watts are you using? Well, a 100 Watt lightbulb uses 100 Watts. Compare that to an LED lightbulb that uses on average only 16 Watts.
We estimate that making a single meal takes roughly 5,400 Watt Hours of energy. So during a demand response “Swarm” event, why not go out to dinner? Turn off all the lights, AC, and appliances before you leave. How about having a meal with a neighbor and reduce the load in half? Or what about using your microwave to heat something — it uses 120 Watt Hours for a 5-minute heat session. Then wash your dishes by hand. If it’s too hot, go for a swim, get some exercise at your gym, or go to the movies. If you stay in, use a ceiling fan instead of the AC.An Energy Star dishwasher is 4x more efficient (500 Watts per load versus 2,100 Watts per load) than a non-Energy Star one.
When kitchen appliances are plugged in, they use standby power. A microwave uses 2-7 Watts when not heating, but it’s on 24/7, so on average it’s using 108 Watts everyday in standby mode. To learn about other devices and calculate savings on changes you can make to defer certain activities to non-peak demand hours, go to these resources: Department of Energy's Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use and Silicon Valley Power’s Appliance Energy Use Chart.
Fast-acting generators, known as peakers, are called on when our peak demand exceeds supply. They are the dirtiest and most expensive generators. You can prevent excessive CO2 emissions produced when everyone is powering up at the same time by ENROLLING in the FREE Meltek Colony program. If you are a Con Edison customer in NYC or Westchester you can receive notifications before these generators are used. Turn off a few switches, and suddenly, you’re part of the solution.
1. Peakcoalition.org, “Fossil-Fuel-End-Game.”
3. EIA.gov (US Energy Information Administration). Nearly one pound of CO2 is generated (natural gas) to produce 1 kWh of electricity