Guest Interview with Rick Voytas of Ameren

   How long have you worked at Ameren?   
    37 years

    How long have you been involved in demand side activities?   
    Since 1990.

    What is your role at Ameren?   
    My position is Manager, Energy Efficiency and Demand Response at Ameren Services.  The
    Ameren corporate structure has two operating companies - Ameren Missouri and Ameren
  Illinois and one service company, Ameren Services, that provides support services to both
  operating companies.  My team does the energy efficiency and demand response program design and associated regulatory filings and approvals for the programs for both operating companies.  The operating companies have staffs to implement the programs.

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?  
The primary DR challenge is how to move forward with DR in a market environment where supply (electric generating capacity) exceeds demand (customer electric load).  Market prices for capacity are depressed to the points where many DR options are not cost effective right now.

What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?   
I've seen utility funding for energy efficiency, especially Midwest electric utility funding, increase significantly over the past few years.  I've seen the emergence of the Smart Grid translate into many more options for demand response initiatives.  Smart Grid technologies such as volt/var controls provide a platform for "painless" demand response.  Smarter rates such as dynamic pricing are proven to yield meaningful peak load reductions.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?  
 I think misconceptions about the reliability of price responsive DR may be one of biggest challenges for the industry to overcome in the next decade.  The industry has had a command and control mindset over DR in the past.  You know - an operator opens a switch and instantaneously turns off electric load at the desired time.  Going forward, the approach likely will be more along the lines of sending a price signal and letting customers make load reductions that make economic sense for them.  It likely will take years for system operators to get comfortable with how customers respond to price signals.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?   
I think the DR and Smart Grid space is where the action will be.  The electric utility industry is in a bit of a conundrum about the electric generation technologies that will replace the current fleet of electric generators.  The industry needs more time to sort through the issues.   Smart Grid and Demand Response as well as energy efficiency are key pieces to the puzzle to buy additional time before new electric generation options have to be pursued.

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