White paper, training explore evolution of demand response

Utilities have long used demand response to deal with high wholesale electricity prices or generation shortfall. What was once accomplished with phone calls to large industrial customers or one-way controls on aggregated residential loads is now done in near-real time with sophisticated two-way communication. Yet, despite the fact that this strategy has become an integral part of grid operations in the U.S., there has been no agreement on a definition of demand response.

The Peak Load Management Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. (PLMA) set out last year to develop a consistent definition for demand response to use across its three training courses on the topic. A demand response dialogue that included several experts in the field took place in September 2016 and was recorded and archived on the PLMA website. At the 2016 PLMA conference later that year, the discussion continued with a panel presentation, Defining the Evolution of Demand Response: From 1.0 to 3.0 and Beyond.

Demand response evolution

Artwork by Peak Load Management Association

Three epochs
The white paper from these discussions breaks down demand response into three periods beginning with the first interruptible tariffs for large commercial and industrial customers. Demand response was primarily used to provide energy (MWh) and capacity (MW) during periods of high wholesale prices, shortfall of generation or transmission capacity or unexpected emergency grid-operating situations. Utility staff contacted a commercial customer, usually a day or hours ahead of a forecasted event, to manually change power consumption onsite. Also, residential customers voluntarily allowed utilities to install load-control devices to cycle their water heaters and air conditioners. Verification usually came from the utility meter which was read on its regular cycle.

Current demand response strategies provide more precise energy and capacity to support the wholesale marketplace, along with sophisticated, near-instantaneous ancillary services such as non-spinning and spinning reserves and frequency and voltage support. Measurement and verification occur in almost real-time measurements (either utility or non-utility) and often serve as confirmation of customer performance during demand response events. Two-way communication also allows for greater customer feedback and engagement.

Demand response is evolving to be a component of broader distributed energy resources both behind and in front of the meter. The service benefits demand response offers in this capacity, both to the grid operator and to the customer, include volt/var control, renewable energy integration and localized distribution system congestion management. The future of demand response may move away from traditional utility control to automatic, pre-programmed triggers based on price thresholds.

Learn more
Two upcoming courses expand on PLMA’s demand response white paper to provide utility and regulatory staff and industry trade allies with a greater understanding of the evolution of demand response. Join subject matter experts from PLMA member organizations in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 26 or in San Francisco, California, Oct. 25.

Presentations will cover current technology and market conditions, utility case studies and more. Demand response will be compared to other load management strategies, and participants will discuss how to design a load management portfolio that serves your utility’s needs.

The training is open to all industry stakeholders, with significantly discounted rates to PLMA member organization staff.

Source: Peak Load Management Association, 8/8/17

Resource planning course includes renewables, new technologies in mix

The time has come to start preparing to meet the challenges of resource planning in a new climate of renewable mandates, consumer expectations, federal regulations and rapidly advancing generation and storage technologies. Resource Planning for Power Systems: Integrating Renewables and New Technologies You are leaving Western's site., a one-day course being offered at Western’s Electric Power Training Center (EPTC) on April 8, is a good place to begin.

New alternatives to conventional generation are already changing capacity planning, portfolio evaluation and resource procurement decisions. Many planners—even experienced ones—may be wondering how to address these issues while still ensuring reliable and economic operation of the bulk power system.

This course will show attendees how to plan their future resource mix in the face of uncertainty. They will gain an understanding of the effect public policies, such as environmental regulations, have on the resource mix and system operations. Presentations will cover strategies for successfully integrating variable resources, storage technologies and demand-response programs into a comprehensive plan.

The agenda is designed to offer something for professionals involved in every aspect of power delivery, from utility system planners and power system operators to emerging technology vendors. Developers of transmission, renewable energy, energy storage and demand-response projects will benefit from the course, as will regulators and lawmakers.

Learn from experts
The instructors bring decades of experience in resource planning to an information-packed schedule. Attendees will learn planning basics, including commonly used calculations, from Michael Henderson, the Regional Planning and Coordination director for Independent System Operator New England. Brian Walshe, president of ION Consulting, will discuss how these principles apply to specific scenarios and how factors like regulations, environmental policies and fuel supplies can affect them.

The case of Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) offers a close look at the real-world impact of aggressive renewable energy goals on resource planning. HECO Renewable Energy Planning Director Dora Nakfuji will be on hand to share her utility’s experiences.

Here to help
The EPTC will continue to be a resource to help utilities keep pace with rapid-fire changes in the electric industry. Randy Manion, Western’s Renewable Resource Program manager, will discuss plans to enhance the training center’s course offerings to include advanced renewable integration training using the EPTC’s unique model power system. Dr. Bri-Mathias Hodge, manager for the Power System Design and Studies Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will join Manion to talk about NREL’s Visually Informed Wind Forecasting Decision Making Platform Project.

“The EPTC is moving forward on several fronts to make this happen,” said Manion. “We have partnerships underway with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory involving advanced visualization tools for control room operators. We are establishing an EPTC Utility Working group with support from some of the electric utilities leading the country in actively addressing renewable integration. Also, Western is developing an EPTC roadmap with our core partners including the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers,” he added. 

Resource Planning for Power Systems will take place at the EPTC in Golden, Colorado, convenient to several hotels and restaurants. The cost is $795, with discounts available for government employees, including municipalities. If you work for a government agency, wish to register multiple people, have questions or need more information, please contact the registrar at 720-491-1173.

Report: Energy apps could benefit customers, utilities

Energy Apps for Residential Customers, You are leaving Western's site. a new report from Navigant Research, suggests that utilities win when customers use apps to manage their energy consumption from their phones or tablets.

According to Navigant, customers who are more engaged and more in control of their energy use are more satisfied with their utilities and contribute to seamless grid efficiency.

Smart devices, such as meters, thermostats and appliances, now provide utilities with data about specific customer needs that can make that scenario happen. Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving Western's site. (SMUD), for example, is among the power providers using this information to shape new customer programs and services. However, in an interview with American Public Power Association You are leaving Western's site. (APPA), SMUD president Arlen Orchard acknowledged that utilities now find themselves buried in a mountain of information, unclear on how to turn it into actionable steps for customers.

Navigant concluded that an app might be the best way for a utility to offer customers these programs and services. Drawing on case studies of utilities that created energy-management apps for consumers, the research showed generally positive customer experiences and possible energy savings of about 8 percent.

Utilities do not need to develop their own apps, either, to provide consumers with the smart technology they increasingly expect. The APPA article cited another report, Pathway to a 21st Century Electric Utility Utilities, You are leaving Western's site. which recommended utilities set up an energy app store or page on their websites. The study by the sustainability think tank Ceres noted that plenty of existing tools allow homeowners to operate demand response, load management and time-of-use products from their smartphone or other device.

An energy app store would not only introduce the products, but educate customers, highlight quality vendors and allow for customers to order products immediately with one click. Energy product vendors could offer customers the same service, but a utility-sponsored app store would have the advantage of providing a wider range of tools. Utilities are also in the best position to track how customers use the apps and their satisfaction levels, the study concluded.

Energy Services would like to know if your utility is offering apps to customers, or is considering including such tools in a customer program. Contact the Energy Service Bulletin editor with your story.

Source: APPA Public Power Daily, 11/12/15

Increase your energy efficiency IQ at two fall events

Maybe it is the debate over the administration’s clean power plan or Tesla’s announcement of a new consumer energy storage system or the media buzz around the “Internet of things.” Whatever the reason, consumers—both residential and commercial—are thinking and talking more about energy use and management. Despite a lot of gloomy prognosticating, that is good for utilities. Two upcoming conferences, one new and one established, can help you to turn this growing consumer interest in energy use to your advantage.

Spanning Western territory
The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange is now in its ninth year of bringing together utility program managers and industry allies to explore the many facets of energy-efficiency programs. Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado, will host conference veterans and newcomers Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 for in-depth discussion, discovery and networking.

Does your service territory look more like prairie than mountain? Then consider attending the Introduction to Demand Response training, Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest workshop and networking reception in Chicago, Sept. 15 to16. These three separate events have a slightly different focus than the RMUEE, but still provide an outstanding learning opportunity for utility professionals involved in energy efficiency and demand response.

Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a "share, not stare" event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)

Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a “share, not stare” event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)

Hear from leaders
Western customers are involved in both events, so you can expect to hear a frontline perspective on program creation, management and evaluation. The City of Aspen Utilities, Holy Cross Energy and Platte River Power Authority are long-time sponsors of RMUEE. Representatives from those utilities will moderate panels and give presentations alongside many other Western customers.

At the workshop portion of the Chicago event, Ken Glaser of Connexus Energy, a member cooperative from Great River Energy will participate in a demand response roundtable. Representatives from Consumers Energy and Duke Energy are also on the panel.

Event sponsors Peak Load Management Association (PLMA) and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) chose speakers with hands-on experience in creating and implementing demand response (DR) and demand-side management (DSM) programs. Gary Connett, demand-side management director at Great River and PLMA member noted that cooperatives and municipal utilities are leaders in load management. “They are a great resource for power providers who are just getting their programs started.”

Start your programs right
The event is specifically for utilities that are new to DSM and DR, added Connett. “The workshop is designed for people who are considering their first program and are looking for models and ideas,” he explained. “Attendees will learn the fundamentals of each strategy, the benefits and how to implement a program.”

 Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O'Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O’Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Introduction to Demand Response is a good place for newcomers to begin. The one-day course provides a comprehensive overview of demand response topics. Current issues will be explored from the perspectives of utilities, retail energy providers, customers, independent system operators, and other demand response technology and services providers.

After a day of intensive training, attendees can unwind at a networking reception on the roof of MEEA headquarters. There is nothing like sipping, nibbling and chatting with colleagues in the presence of one of America’s great skylines to get the ideas flowing. The Wednesday workshop, “Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest,” is tailored to the specific goals and challenges facing midwestern utilities. The first two sessions separately address DR and energy-efficiency professionals, and the third covers program models that successfully combine the two points of view.

You may register for all three events as a package or in any combination, including just the reception. Hotel accommodations must be reserved separately and are not included in event registration.

Efficiency issues, conference evolve
Much has changed and much has stayed the same in nearly a decade of talking energy efficiency at RMUEE. Stubborn challenges persist, such as program evaluation, reaching low-income customers and creating a trusted contractor pool, although each year brings clever and creative local solutions. On the positive side, utilities can choose from a variety of mature behavior-based programs for engaging customers, and have plenty of data to make the selection easier.

Technology, always a hot topic, keeps challenging utilities to keep up with it. Lighting upgrades continue to offer the most bang for the buck, but LED, or light-emitting diode, lamps have displaced compact fluorescent lights as the state-of-the-art in efficiency. Automated systems to manage home energy use are still popular, but programmable thermostats seem almost quaint compared to smartphone apps that allow people to control multiple systems remotely. The cost of solar panels has dropped sharply in nine years, making distributed generation a more pressing issue, and carbon emissions regulations now seem closer than ever.

The RMUEE agenda covers all these topics and more, with presentations by your colleagues—the people who design and implement customer programs. You will also hear from trade allies who offer energy products and services and from government agencies that work with utilities to meet efficiency goals.

With so much experience in one place, networking usually turns out to be the star of the RMUEE. Attendees will have plenty of time to make new contacts and compare notes with old friends during meals, breaks and receptions. For a change of pace this year, the final day will be dedicated to outdoor teambuilding activities, including a guided hike and a bike ride to the Maroon Bells. That is, weather permitting, of course, but the fall weather in Aspen is generally cooperative.

There is still time to register for RMUEE, and rooms at the Sky Motel in Aspen are available at a special conference rate. The motel is only a short drive from the Aspen Meadows Conference Center, and will also host the Thursday evening reception.

The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange and the Midwest regional workshops differ in focus. One explores the broad range of customer efficiency programs while the other hones in on two specific strategies. The target audiences deal with different geographic challenges. But the events are tied by the belief that the real experts on the utility industry are the utilities themselves. We will discover all the expertise we need to deal with environmental, regulatory and technological changes if we just talk to our neighbors.

Learn what controlled electric water heaters can do for your utility

Oct. 21, 2014
12-1:00 pm CDT

Balancing energy use from systems as simple as water heaters against energy generation opens all kinds of new possibilities for an affordable, clean energy future.

Explore innovative approaches to demand response, demand-side management and renewable energy storage during Clean Energy AmbassadorsRedirecting to a non-government site free October Lunchtime webinar on electric water heaters. The Surprising Benefits of Controlled Electric Water HeatersRedirecting to a non-government sitecould change the way you see the future of the electric utility industry.

Leader speaks
Gary Connett, director of member services for Great River Energy Redirecting to a non-government site(GRE), is the featured speaker. The Minnesota generation and transmission utility has been a leader in utility demand response for decades. Today, more than 200,000 households and businesses served by GRE distribution utilities participate in demand response programs. The utility controls 15 percent of its peak load, which is equivalent to 370 megawatts of capacity.

Controlled electric water heaters are a proven component of the demand-response portfolio, along with controlled air conditioners, controlled irrigation systems and other strategies. More important, GRE has learned that electric water heaters can serve as energy storage devices—like batteries—so that customers are unaffected when the utility uses new grid-interactive control technologies to fine-tune water heater load control over shorter and shorter time horizons. Anticipating load control needs a day ahead is valuable, but anticipating those needs only an hour ahead—or less!—is even better. Today’s grid-interactive controlled water heaters may even provide frequency regulation, an ancillary service that balances the minute-to-minute variations in generation resources, including wind and solar.

Balancing tool
The heat energy a water heater stores becomes, in effect, the storage medium in a battery. When the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, it is possible to “charge” this thermal storage battery. And when the electricity is needed for other purposes, the water heating elements shut off. Connett says GRE has more than a gigawatt-hour in thermal storage capacity today.

The possibilities on the horizon promise even greater integration of renewables and demand response. Some measures are suited for homes, and others for larger businesses. Connett explains, “We start to see the utility’s purpose as working with both demand-side and supply-side resources, rather than simply increasing generation to meet whatever electricity needs customers create.”

In coming years, utilities will continue to give customers the energy services they want, achieving that goal by tapping both demand-side and supply-side energy resources.

Overcoming barriers
Hurdles to success in grid-interactive water heating remain, however, the first being public perception. Until recently, well-intentioned energy-efficiency advocates dismissed electric water heating as an inappropriate use of generation resources—“like cutting butter with a chainsaw,” as Amory Lovins once put it. Pending energy-efficiency regulations on water heaters could hold the strategy back. But many clean energy advocates, including researchers affiliated with Lovins, say they are willing to take another look at electric water heating today, if it means a more reliable grid, more reliant on wind, sun and other clean, renewable resources.

The Lunchtime Webinar series highlights measures, programs and technologies public power providers serving small towns and rural areas might use to provide better service to their customers. To learn more, register for the webinar or contact Clean Energy Ambassadors.

Thermostats are emphasis for newest PLMA interest group

The Peak Load Management AllianceRedirecting to a non-government site (PLMA) has announced that Brian Doyle and Lee Hamilton of Xcel Energy are co-leading PLMA’s new Thermostat Interest Group.

The PLMA Thermostat Interest Group will examine the costs and benefits of all types of utility-sponsored programs that leverage thermostat technology to deliver demand response, energy efficiency or other system benefits. A group goal is to identify the resources and partners that best communicate the value of smart thermostats to utility programs, rather than to focus on a specific technology or solution.

The group intends to collect documentation from published and not-so-public sources such as utility thermostat pilot and program evaluations. These and other third-party resources covering technology evaluations, program design concepts, market assessments, savings potential and more will be selectively shared with members.

The group has already conducted an initial meeting with founding PLMA organization representatives. Based on a strong interest level, the group will host a half-day workshop on Nov. 3 prior to the 15th PLMA Fall Conference in Philadelphia.

PLMA Interest Group membership is restricted to representatives from PLMA member organizations, but any organization is welcome to join PLMA. Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 9/15/14

Answering your customer’s demand response questions

The difficult task of explaining load management to someone outside the utility industry is one you have to tackle if your utility plans to market a peak-shaving, demand response program to customers. A recent article in Energy Pulse Redirecting to a non-government site, by Energy Consultant Sarah Battaglia of Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.  Redirecting to a non-government site, makes it a little easier. Battaglia’s list of Top 10 questions about demand response programs speaks to the customer’s concerns, but utilities should pay attention to her answers.

Demand response is a tried-and-true measure to most utility professionals but your customers may not be familiar with it. Before large key accounts enroll in a program, they need to understand how the strategy helps the utility—and helps them—including how their businesses might be affected by brownouts or blackouts. They will want to know when and how often events occur, who will notify the company and how, what kind of hardware they need and who pays for it and installs it. Member services representatives should be prepared to offer customers different ways to curtail their energy use based on the type of business.

Utility programs are more likely to succeed when you look at your services through the customers’ eyes and treat them like partners, rather than passive receivers. This article provides insight into the business owners’ point of view and can help program managers be ready with straightforward explanations that will earn the customer’s participation and trust.

APPA, NRECA applaud DOE move on water heaters

Electric utility groups are applauding the Energy Department’s (DOE) decision to reconsider a rule it issued last year that would limit the size of residential water heaters manufactured after April 2015.

In April 2010, the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency issued a final rule on energy conservation standards for residential water heaters. Electric utility groups feared the rule would interfere with demand-response programs in which consumers allow their utilities to control their water heater’s cycling based on grid conditions.

On June 6, DOE issued a request for information seeking comments on how the rule would affect utility programs that use high-storage-volume (above 55 gallons) electric storage water heaters to reduce peak electricity demand.

The American Public Power Association (APPA) Redirecting to a non-government site, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Redirecting to a non-government site, PJM Interconnection Redirecting to a non-government site and the Steffes Corp. Redirecting to a non-government site issued a statement June 12 applauding the DOE’s move to request more information on this issue.

“APPA is pleased that the Department of Energy has taken this important first step toward relieving the 2010 constraints imposed on electric water heaters in utility demand-response programs,” said President and CEO Mark Crisson. “Large-volume electric water heaters provide an environmentally friendly and cost effective means for utilities to improve overall system efficiency.”

NRECA CEO Glenn English concurred, noting that electric co-ops have relied on the energy storage capacity of residential water heaters to help manage demand on their distribution systems.

DOE will accept comments through July 13. Information on submitting comments can be found in the RFI. APPA encourages its members that have water heater programs to submit information. Read more.

Using Demand Response Programs to Benefit the Customer and the Utility

The second day of the APPA Customer Connections Conference is featuring dual track sessions. Our first session of the day is a look at how utilities are working with key accounts to develop demand response programs that are good for the consumers as well as the utility.

Lisa Schwartz of the Regulatory Assistance Project in Albany, Ore., opened her presentation by defining demand response as changes in electric use by end use customer motivated by cost pressures or demand pressures. Although demand response is not considered energy efficiency, most programs offer some energy-efficiency benefits.Among its other benefits, demand response is a cost effective alternative to building new generation, has a lower environmental impact and is a good way to manage risk. Avoided generation capacity costs, avoided energy costs and better asset use also come with successful demand response.

Common types of demand response are direct load control during times of high demand, and pricing signals that encourage end users to voluntarily reduce consumption.  

The systems and equipment that can be controlled include lighting, space conditioning, water heating, industrial processes and irrigation. Voluntary curtailment can be applied to almost anything a customer can think of.  

Before launching a demand response program, a utility should engage in a realistic assessment of how much demand the program can reduce.  Factors include kind of venues or customers planning to participate, the saturation of equipment to be controlled, the geographic concentration of the system and, perhaps most important, customer reaction.

Expect to find a gap between what is technically achievable and what can be done in real world. That being said, a recent assessment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that a 14 percent reduction in growth in peak demand in the United States is achievable.

Most system operators focus their programs on the costliest hours of operation, but customers can reduce use anytime, to the benefit of the utility. At customer level, critical peak pricing gets best results. Clip those peaks that happen a few times per year, and you will reduce your capacity needs.

A study found that if California had 5 percent of its load on demand response during the energy crisis, the state could have saved huge amounts of money in the neighborhood of $162 per customer per day. Customers participating in demand response programs can shave $8 per month off their energy bills on average.

There are, of course, costs involved in implementing demand response. Advanced metering structure can be costly; IT departments may need new equipment, training or personnel; and billing systems may need to be overhauled. On the customer side, marketing plans, education and incentives will add to the program costs. Large customers may need to invest in technology such as automated building control.

Demand responses programs come with their downsides for utilities. Energy costs can be less predictable and there will be some reduction in sales. However, the smart grid will give customers more control over their consumption and both utilities and customers will be able to control more end uses. So highly customized demand response will become part of the utility landscape.

The Department of Energy is conducting a study on how different dynamic pricing strategies affect consumer behavior.  The study is comparing opt-in with opt-out programs, customer isolation with education, and programs using different types of technology.

There are 13,000 customers participating, including the control group. The results will be coming out in 2013 or 2014, and will be available in a publicly accessible database.

In the coming world of high-penetration renewables, demand will have to follow supply. Some of the technologies we will use to control demand already exist and are in use, such as cycling air conditioners and municipal water pumping and storing thermal energy in water heaters. These are fast, economical strategies.

Policies that promote demand response treat it as on par with other resources in planning, just like conservation. Don’t forget to factor it in during transmission planning either. Budget enough for incentives to give all your customers a chance to participate.

Public Utility Commission studies DSM efforts

Utility DSM in Colorado: Past, Present and Future
Paul C. Caldara, P.E., Colorado Department of Regulatory

The CUE Exchange opened with Paul Caldara of the Colorado Public Utility Commission, delivering a keynote address on utility demand-side management in Colo.

Caldara, a 20-year veteran of the utility industry, joined PUC’s advisory staff about the same time as House Bill 07-1037 was passed. The bill requires investor-owned gas utilities in the state to make rules for DSM programs. Electric utilities must litigate their programs with the PUC.

Each year, utilities file a DSM report with PUC that goes into the annual report the commission files with the Colorado General Assembly. In 2009, each dollar spent on DSM at gas utilities yielded $1.33 in benefits to ratepayers. For electric utilities, the ratio is a dollar spent for $4.00 benefit.

PUC still has many questions regarding what can be considered DSM.  Does it include rate design, reducing distribution system energy loss by increasing distribution conductor size, or is it any measure that increases generator efficiency? Will strategies, smart grid and other technologies that give consumers immediate feedback on their consumption be considered DSM or displace it? “There are a lot of questions,” Caldara said, “but no answers, yet.”

To answer these questions, PUC gathers information through dockets, at least 31 of which have been related to DSM, demand response or smart grid this year. The dockets are searchable online—see Caldara’s presentation (to be posted on the CUE Exchange agenda page) for the numbers.

Caldara concluded by telling attendees that events like the CUE Exchange are invaluable for collecting information—for sharing ideas, giving each other feedback on programs and meeting partners. “And the most important sharing takes place after 5 o’clock,” he said.