The system operator may require large consumers (large-scale industry) to reduce their power consumption in order to ensure the safety and sustainability of the system.
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The interruptibility service is a tool the system operator has available to ensure the quality of supply of the national electricity system at all times. By means of this tool, it is possible to reduce the megawatts (MW) of electricity being consumed by large consumers as and when required by the system operator.
In return for reducing their consumption, large companies (usually large-scale industry) are remunerated for providing this service.
In accordance with that set out in Order IET/2013/2013, of 31 October, which regulates this interruptibility service allocation mechanism, companies providers of this service can opt between two types of power reductions (called "products"), either 5 MW or 90 MW, being the reduction agreed for a maximum period of one hour for each order issued by the system operator.
Regarding interruptibility orders, the maximum number of hours executable per provider per year is 240 hours for the 5 MW product (with a maximum application of 40 hours per month) and 360 hours for the 90 MW product (with a maximum of application 60 hours per month).
Since 2014, the allocation of the interruptibility service is carried out through auctions organised by Red Eléctrica, as system operator, and supervised by the National Securities Market Commission, in which products of 5 MW and 90 MW can be purchased. The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism is the body responsible for defining the procedures which govern how this auction is to be carried out, as well as the amount of products offered and the opening prices of the products.
Red Eléctrica, as system operator, issues power reduction orders based on technical criteria (as a tool for rapid response to an emergency situation due to lack of sufficient generation to meet the electricity demand) and economic criteria (in those cases where the execution of this service is less costly than the application of system adjustment services).