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19/05/2011: Businesses to take part in cutting-edge energy trial

Businesses in Greater Manchester are being asked to take part in a cutting-edge energy trial – the first of its kind in the country.

The trial, arranged by network operator Electricity North West, will enable regional businesses and organisations to be paid to reduce their energy usage when capacity is needed to support the grid. It aims to help manage a rise in electricity use, which the Department of Energy and Climate Change predict will double by 2050, by reducing demand in peak periods.

“As we move to a low carbon economy, people are likely to be using more and more electricity, using it to power their heating and cars, instead of gas and petrol,” explains Electricity North West’s customer strategy director, Paul Bircham.

“But the local network that we own and maintain can only carry a certain amount. So the challenge for us, and our customers, is to find ways to cope with the increase in demand without just building more and more lines.”

Making sure that everyone can have the power they need, particularly during peak times of demand, is an ongoing challenge.

“It would cost customers a fortune through their bills to just build more network to satisfy the predicted increase in demand, but if we can reduce the demand during peak periods instead, then the costs will be hugely reduced,” continues Paul.

Electricity North West has signed a contract with EnerNOC, an international leader in energy management, to bring technology used to adjust demand for electricity to the local North West network. Customers that use a lot of electricity, such as big businesses, will be offered incentives to become part of the scheme. State-of-the-art technology will then allow Electricity North West to request that these businesses reduce their demand at certain times, while minimising disruption to their businesses.

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