The average electricity price paid by commercial and industrial customers (C&I) is misleading. Corresponding Data According to the US Energy Information Administration, commercial customers across the country paid over 13 cents per kilowatt-hour in September 2022, an increase of almost two cents from a year earlier.
But behind that average kilowatt-hour price lies the hard-to-predict costs that can send C&I utility bills skyrocketing. For example, when utilities charge their customers hour-of-use rates, C&I bills can skyrocket if customers don’t reduce power consumption during peak periods. Higher prices at times of high demand are not the only challenge. C&I customers can also benefit financially from performance fees. Typically based on the maximum demand amount a customer has in any 15-minute interval over the course of a billing cycle, demand charges can amount to as much as 70% a customer’s electricity bill.
Mobile energy storage can help here. Mobile energy storage is a powerful tool that enables both C&I customers and utilities to contain costs while maintaining or expanding their operations.
A response to seasonal peaks in energy consumption
One potential application for mobile storage is in businesses that have extremely high power demands during certain times of the year, such as B. Ski resorts that need to produce snow. “A ski resort may have peak demand 10 times higher during the winter while demand is low at other times,” said Chris McKay, general manager of Nomad Transportable Power Systems, a Vermont-based provider of portable energy storage systems.
The introduction of a mobile energy storage system would allow a ski resort to reduce its peak demand — and the high costs that come with it — while reaping the benefits of utility demand-response programs.
Indeed, a ski resort may choose not to participate in a financially attractive utility demand response program because the need to continue normal operations outweighs any financial benefit from reducing or eliminating its power usage.
For example, it is a business necessity to use large amounts of electricity when conditions are suitable for snowmaking. A properly sized energy storage system would allow the ski resort to continue its normal operations while taking advantage of the incentives to respond to utility demand, as storage can reduce the amount of utility power the ski resort would require.
Flexibility to introduce new technologies
Ski resorts are far from the only type of business that can benefit from mobile storage. Indeed, many companies want to reduce their energy costs but feel powerless because they don’t own their assets. “They’re looking at a situation where they’re being hit with electricity bills, but they don’t necessarily know that they’re going to stay in a building forever,” McKay said. “Portable energy storage allows you to take something to a place that might be temporary and use it for the next few years and give it back when you’re done.”
Many C&I companies are also aggressively electrifying their vehicle fleets today. The influx of electric vehicles (EVs) that need to be charged can quickly overwhelm a company’s electrical infrastructure.
“If 20 or 30 EVs come in and you need to charge them all, the person running the facility tells the fleet manager that they’re going to need a megawatt of peak power,” McKay said. “But if the plant can only deliver 200 kilowatts, they can’t do that and have to wait a couple of years for the utility to upgrade the grid for the new load.”
A mobile storage unit provides flexibility for both C&I companies dealing with a significant new EV load and utility companies that need time to complete grid upgrades. For example, one of the main tasks of a utility company is to build or upgrade the network infrastructure as the load increases. This happens when a new business starts operations or an existing business expands. In many cases, this involves the costly task of upgrading a substation to handle higher peak demand.
Bringing mobile storage to a grid site to shave peak loads benefits businesses because they don’t have to wait for the utility to complete a substation upgrade. But it can also benefit the utility, as portable storage could eliminate the need for a costly upgrade.
“Mobile energy storage can mitigate this spike and allow the utility to potentially shift CapEx,” McKay said. “So instead of having to spend a huge sum to upgrade the substation, you might be able to wait two or three years or not have to do it at all.”
A tool to improve sustainability while keeping an eye on your bottom line
In other cases, mobile energy storage can complement natural gas or diesel generators used to power construction sites. diesel generators emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and over 40 toxic air pollutants. However, supplementing their use with mobile energy storage can reduce the frequency of use of the generators.
“You can bring in batteries and pair them with these generators so you can turn them off when demand is low and they would just charge the batteries or fill the peaks,” McKay said. “In this way, fuel consumption can be radically reduced in times of low demand.”
The economy is in transition. Uncertainty about the possibility of a recession has many companies looking for ways to reduce costs. At the same time, companies large and small are striving to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Mobile storage is a tool that can achieve both goals.
To learn more about how Nomad Transportable Power Systems can help your business meet its energy consumption goals while protecting its bottom line, visit nomadpower.com.