BLOG: Demand Response in ERCOT: Controllable Loads Vs. Non-Controllable Loads

Shaun Connell By Shaun Connell

One of the biggest expenses for large industrial businesses is the cost of power. Companies are continually looking for new ways to cut power costs and save money. Many large industrial power users enroll in demand response programs that pay customers to cut their power usage to help ensure the stability of the electric grid.

In ERCOT, there are generally two different programs for large flexible loads like bitcoin mining facilities – controllable load resources and non-controllable load resources.

What’s a non-CLR?

One of the more common ways companies participate in demand response is as a non-controllable load resource. Non-CLRs are characterized by a much more blunt, cruder form of ramping down energy usage – in some cases, just throwing a breaker at a facility to lower power needs. Non-CLR can provide that reduction in power demand but is often a much more manual, labor-intensive process that is not typically integrated into a facility’s operations.

While non-CLRs do get paid for conserving power, they are only able to participate in a limited amount of ERCOT demand response programs – largely due to that more basic approach to shutting power down.

For example, most non-CLR providers [will give an order to a facility to shut down, and the facility must meet that request in X minutes. Often times that means that the fastest way to power down is turning the breaker to the facility.]

While that quickly meets the need to power down, facilities with sensitive equipment like computers or data centers can see damage to their equipment from that hard shutdown. These types of equipment can also take longer to reboot once the power is back on. That manual rebooting of equipment means the facility is offline much longer than just the hours it is meeting its non-CLR obligation.

What’s a CLR?

ERCOT offers another program for certain customers to take advantage of the full range of ancillary services by participating as a controllable load resource. To be certified as a controllable load resource, customers have to be able to quickly and precisely follow ERCOT’s directions to ramp up or down to certain levels.

For customers to meet these specific requirements from ERCOT, a more sophisticated demand response program that is integrated into a facility’s operations. Lancium Smart Response™ is the only provider certified by ERCOT to provide load-only controllable load resource solutions for customers. Smart Response™ provides customers with a solution that automatically responds to grid conditions and seamlessly balances mining loads with signals from the power grid.

Customers taking advantage of the CLR program have the ability to participate in the full range of ancillary services, which generates additional revenue, and customers can access more specific, granular pricing, which lowers power costs.

Additionally, Lancium’s solution simplifies and optimizes mining operations. Instead of that hard restart for NCLR programs, Smart Response™ automatically ramps usage and minimizes the wear and tear on miners and the need for manual rebooting.

Related: Lancium’s Fort Stockton Facility Qualifies as ERCOT Controllable Load Resource

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