The Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration has started pushing excess power to homes and a local Nippon Paper Industries mill as its wind farms are regularly creating more power than it can handle.
BPA is paying for the pilot program in which domestic water heaters and space heaters can be centrally controlled to use up the excess power. However, the agency would need to harness thousands of homes’ heating appliances to use up the superfluous energy, so it has also turned to Nippon for an industrial-sized solution to the problem, the New York Times reports.
One of the paper mill’s biggest consumers of energy is its pulping machine. The Port Angeles, Wash., plant generally runs this machine at its most energy-efficient, rather than its fastest, speed, meaning that their is regularly the potential to use more energy and pulp paper at a faster rate – a win-win situation for BPA and Nippon.
The average load of the mill, which makes paper for telephone books, is 53 MW – roughly 1,000 times that of a standard home, according to the Times. But the Nippon plant has the capacity to handle 73 MW, the paper reports.
“A phone call could come and say, ‘We have a problem for 24 hours — can you use more energy?’“ Harold S. Norlund, the mill manager, told the Times.