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Understanding & Leveraging Curtailment

December 14, 2017

Less is more:

Leveraging demand response and energy curtailment.


Source: NRG Energy

Choice is good. For energy users that idea has taken hold in recent years with emerging energy options (wind, solar, etc.) and, just as important, emerging ways to use less energy. When it comes to reduction, NRG’s team is making “use less” a reality in ways that are both seamless and dramatic.

For many years, the main option was through a solution known as demand response (DR). Both tactical and proven, it enabled a company to enroll in a program whereby they would agree to cut back on energy usage in times of heavy stress on the local grid. In return, they would earn financial incentives for their efforts. DR became a win-win solution for everyone, vital in helping reduce electricity usage during peak usage periods. For grid managers and utilities, DR programs reduced stress in high-peak periods and, longer term, reduced the need for construction of new generation sources.

For companies, DR programs evolved to become more customized and more easily incorporated without disruption to their daily operations. The driver behind both these trends was increased knowledge and data regarding energy use.

From here, the next step was natural: leverage the growing amount of data to take energy reduction to an even higher level. Add new tools, technologies, plus an experienced resource like the team at  NRG, and the result is a bigger idea known as energy curtailment. It builds on the reduction idea by integrating broader and more wide-ranging solutions. At the core is still a deep-rooted knowledge of a particular company’s energy usage.

Embracing energy curtailment means taking on an even more proactive approach to managing energy and maximizing savings. Just like DR, these solutions can have a significant and positive effect during energy “events” such as severe weather impacting the energy grid, or any other time where the grid may be experiencing challenges. Unlike DR, they can also bring added efficiency, control and resilience to a company’s overall energy approach.

In this way, an energy curtailment mindset and the solution it leads to, can deliver an even more significant long-term impact on energy management programs and planning.


Demand Response and Energy Curtailment Applied 

Whether your company is interested in a tactical DR program or a more wide-ranging energy curtailment initiative, here are four key factors to take into account upfront:

  • Information and data are key to a successful program. You need to track electricity in real time, as this knowledge is vital in improving your energy management practices. Smart meters and other related tools, from your in-house experts or external advisors, play a central role
  • Develop a strategy based on your data and usage patterns that takes into account your company’s overall energy needs and forms your prescribed strategy for reducing energy
  • Create a point of contact at your company and a clear line of communication in managing changes and implementing the solution
  • Measure and analyze the performance of your program and adjust accordingly in maximizing the efforts. This aspect directly ties into the cost savings, incentives and overall impact you can achieve


Overall, demand response and energy curtailment require investment of time and longer-scale planning, with the potential for significant savings, greater control, increased efficiency and added resilience. Partnering with an experienced hand, like NRG, can turn a generic concept into a tailored approach, one that capitalizes on the short-term benefits and becomes a pillar of a long-term energy solution. It can also lead you from the tactical success of a DR program to the integration of even bigger energy solutions – like onsite generation systems and energy management tools.

To see how a holistic approach to energy curtailment can be tailored to your existing and long-term energy needs, contact the NRG team.

Mike Nowak | NRG Energy