Microfield Group, Inc. (Porland, Oregon, U.S.) has announced that its subsidiary EnergyConnect, Inc. is entering the summer peak demand season with significant participation from key commercial and industrial customers in Chicago. Increasing energy prices, coupled with an interest in balancing grid supply and demand in an environmentally beneficial manner, have added to the interest for ECI's total demand response solutions.
During the last two months in Chicago, including this most recent addition, ECI has added more than 60 MW of demand response to its established base, with another 41 MW in the final stages of contract approval. ECI's latest registrant is Thermal Chicago, a subsidiary of infrastructure giant Macquarie Infrastructure Company. Thermal Chicago provides chilled water to nearly 100 Chicago high rises for air conditioning in the city's downtown and adds a new dimension to the ECI portfolio.
ECI offers energy consumers participation in hourly real-time and day-ahead demand response programs by implementing demand-reduction and demand-shifting strategies. Altering the operating schedules of facilities to suit the demands of the electric grid as a whole has enabled grid operator PJM to redefine energy supply and reserve capacity in terms of controlled usage reduction.
Many electric utilities have raised energy prices significantly. These price increases are driven by a combination of higher fuel prices and strong economic growth that has increased electricity demand without any significant development of new electricity supply. The termination of capped electric rates under Illinois' transition to retail electric competition has also become a factor. EnergyConnect offers participation in the PJM demand response programs to partially offset electricity price increases by paying participants when they voluntarily shift their energy usage.
"ECI participants include office buildings, retail space, government buildings, warehouse and storage, on site generators, industrial facilities, and other electric consumers. Integrating a city-wide infrastructure service like Thermal Chicago into ECI's package of services to the grid demonstrates the power and flexibility of ECI systems," offered Gene Ameduri, ECI's president.