CODA BLOG

Building Energy Resilience for Organizations

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With commercial business electricity rates increasing (California rates have been rising 6-8% annually since 2000[1]), the increased risks of brown outs and rolling black outs due to the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and the stresses placed on global fuel supply lines from climate change and political unrest, there has never been more of a need for adaptable energy solutions.

Here at CODA Energy, we approach this problem by building capacity for energy resilience.

Resilience, broadly, is a term that is gaining momentum across many sectors, public and private. Cities are thinking about resilience as preparedness for the effects of climate change. Companies are thinking about resilience when it comes to rising costs, forecasting and risk management.

 “Resilience is the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events.”

Terry Boston, PJM President and CEO, PJM Annual Report 2013

In order to frame resilience for CODA Energy’s customers in terms of an energy conversation, we borrowed from the experts at the Rockefeller Foundation and their campaign for 100 Resilient Cities that takes into account the dynamism of our times. We’ve translated the characteristics of resilient individuals, communities and systems as defined by the Rockefeller Foundation’s work into energy terms. Below are what the resulting key attributes of energy resilient organizations:

Awareness

Energy resilient organizations must leverage network expertise and maintain an understanding of energy data, net metering and opportunities.

As companies continue to search for operational efficiencies and cost-saving measures, awareness of energy use and adoption of renewables has grown. Smart meters and energy storage systems have also enabled a new level of clarity and understanding around real time energy use and management.

Diversification and Spare Capacity

Energy resilient organizations must build in intentional surplus capacity, as a backup or alternative for unforeseen system changes or disruptions. Being diversified also means that the system can draw upon a wider range of energy sources and technologies.

Businesses are subject to an inherent unpredictability around energy costs related to peak demand. Storage enables companies to gain more control over the volume and source of energy used, thereby mitigating expenses associated with high demand charges or expensive outages. By building in backup capacity, business can proactively prepare and ensure supply and cost stability during times of disruption. Power outage from Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have resulted in $25 billion in lost business activity.[2]  Hurricane Katrina took the lives of over 1,800 people and cost over $40B in damages. [3]  As weather events and demand fluctuations create volatility, the need to build in backups and alternatives grows.

Self-Regulation and Control

Energy resilient organizations must facilitate a level of self-dependence within an energy system to enhance response to collapse or crisis. Organizations that have control over many energy system variables can return to normal function more quickly.

With increasing urbanization, aging energy delivery systems must be augmented to provide consistent energy service and security for growing markets. Micro-grids facilitate a new level of self-dependence for buildings and groups of buildings.

Flexible and Responsive

Energy resilient organizations must be equipped to adapt and respond to change. They must be integrated with a strong network that provides flexibly and enables them to more quickly scale for growth, manage infrastructure and adapt to new and emerging technologies.

As an organization advances its energy strategy by leveraging renewables and other new technologies, energy storage can maximize these investments, it can easily accommodate rapid growth, enabling the organization to adapt to the future energy needs without major investments in energy infrastructure.

Reliable energy is a necessity for organizations. Our existing energy infrastructure is aging and cannot quickly adapt to new technologies or disasters leading to interruptions and inefficiencies for companies.  Energy crisis, whether natural or man-made, should never be allowed to affect our lives and businesses so massively. Having a source of distributed power that is reliable even during cataclysmic events will build the resilience of our global community and reduce the costs caused by an inflexible energy system.

Resilience is mandatory.

 


[1] http://c0688662.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/downloads_pdf_White_Paper_Calif_Elec_Prices.pdf

[2] http://nation.time.com/2012/11/26/hurricane-sandy-one-month-later/

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/hurricane-katrina-statistics-fast-facts/

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