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Electricity peak demand control program results in significant load reduction in Toronto

Electricity loads in Toronto were steadily climbing on Tuesday, until Toronto Hydro  activated approximately 67,000 residential air conditioner control switches, and industrial/commercial buildings participating in the "DR 3" program began to curtail electricity consumption.


At 2:00 PM on Tuesday, June 19th, the city’s electricity usage peaked at 4,602 megawatts (MW).  At that point, as directed by the IESO, Toronto Hydro triggered its peaksaver and DR3 programs, dropping the peak by more than 70 MW through the remainder of the afternoon. Toronto Hydro estimates that at least 50 MW of the drop was related to the “cycling” of residential air conditioners in neighbourhoods across Toronto.

The 70 MW total is the equivalent of taking approximately 21,000 homes off the grid, or the cities of Kenora and Orillia combined.  One megawatt is equal to one million watts.

Currently, there are about 67,000 customers who have signed on for peaksaver.  These ‘peaksavers’ generally don’t notice and often forget that they’re part of this city-wide effort to curtail usage in high demand times.  It works remotely – Toronto Hydro sends a signal to the switch installed adjacent to a central air conditioner, slowing down the cycle.  Because the fan continues to run, most don’t notice a difference in temperature inside the home.  But the results speak for themselves.

Businesses stepped up too.  The DR3 (DEMAND RESPONSE CONTRACTUAL DR3) program is a “saveONenergy program” designed to offset electricity usage or shed electricity load when needed.  Generally, customers signed up for the program help by turning off lights or motors, shifting production to other periods, or drawing electricity supply from an onsite generator.

Toronto Hydro is still encouraging customers to conserve where they can, especially during peak times (11 am to 5pm).