Southern California Municipal Utilities Explore Ice To Reduce Peak Demand


Eleven southern California municipal electric utilities are considering a new twist to help reduce peak electricity demand during hot summer months—ice storage.

The 11 municipalities, which together serve 2 million customers, are members of the Southern California Public Power Authority. During peak times on hot summer days, up to 70% of California's peak electricity demand often comes from air conditioners, according to the California Energy Commission.

The municipal utilities are working with to install 10 ice-storage air conditioners at test sites in Anaheim, Azusa, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Riverside, Los Angeles and within the Imperial Irrigation District.SCPPA is providing $100,000 to purchase and install the systems."Air conditioning contributes significantly to our system peak demand," said Bill Carnahan, SCPPA executive director.

As mid-afternoon temperatures rise, so does customer demand for air conditioning. This peak demand calls into service more expensive power generators and congests the electric supply grid similar to how cars congest rush-hour freeways.

Residential and commercial customers continue to use air conditioners as they always have with ice storage air-conditioning technology. The difference is how air-conditioned comfort is provided and when energy is consumed. Using lower-priced, off-peak electricity at night instead of higher-priced peak electricity during the day, the air conditioner, which is designed for commercial buildings and larger homes, stores "cool" energy in the form of ice.

"Shifting the load from on-peak to off-peak hours can significantly lower costs to our customers, conserve energy and reduce air pollution," SCPPA's Carnahan said. "Our review of Ice Energy's technology shows that it can reduce a homeowners or business's need for expensive on-peak electricity for air conditioning by up to 95%." Over the coming months, SCPPA officials will monitor how well the system operates in different climate zones and in buildings of various sizes.

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