Guest Interview with Kristin Sullivan (City of Philadelphia)

    The City of Philadelphia inPennsylvania has 19 facilities engaged in PJM’s Emergency DR
    Program at 8.6 MW, and sub groups of those facilities participate in actively reducing their
    Peak Load Contributions (PLC) using the City’s Curtailment Service Provider’s (CSP) PLC
    predictor program. The City has also taken advantage of its local energy distribution
    company’s (EDC) mandated demand reduction goals and participated in its “PECO Smart
    Response Program.”

How long have you worked for the City of Philadelphia?
4 years

What is your role for the City?
Energy Manager

How long have you been involved in demand side activities?

3.5 years

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?
Within the City of Philadelphia, one of the most challenging things has been juggling the different programs, especially during the summer of 2012, and how the programs react with one another. We’ve had to add back provisions, our energy EDC’s Smart Response Program approved by our PUC, and the economic and energy efficiency programs on top of the new methodology for calculating curtailment in the PJM emergency DR program.

Another challenge within the City has been empathizing and finding solutions for the facilities that initially can’t imagine curtailing at all due to the requirements for the different purposes they serve (i.e. curating hundreds of millions of dollars of art, mitigating inmate agitation that could compromise public safety, or adhering to union contract temperature ranges to avoid litigation).

Looking out at the industry, it has been interesting to follow the evolution of FERC Order 745 and the arguments about exploitation of PJM market rules and guaranteed load drop versus use of the PLC- based drops. It has obviously affected us directly as participants in DR, and the discussions have been fascinating. I only wish I had more time to keep up with it and digest it and weigh in.

What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?
It seems there is much more participation in DR over the last few years, especially since there hadn’t been an event called for a few years prior to Summer 2008. I also think, with the mandates to local utilities to reduce energy usage by their customers, that has really helped to shape energy efficiency, at least in our region. The City will have paid about $7.5 Million (loose calculation) into the energy efficiency charge, so we want to make sure that we get that back in rebates, despite the low energy prices we are seeing.

I do feel that there is a sea change in how people think about energy. We used to get amnesia when energy prices fell and now it seems we are winning the battle of moving through a steady course of action despite low prices. I think we are reacting less to the volatility of the market and instead moving to adopt an approach that values cost avoidance measures.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?
As folks perform well in DR year in and year out, they lose the ability to earn money through DR, and instead need to focus on reducing during Peak Load Contribution (PLC) days which will avoid capacity and transmission costs. That moves the discussion of “negawatts” versus adding capacity one step further away from each other, which may erroneously diminish the value that these facilities provide by their reductions during an emergency event. Facilities are no longer recognized for their consistent reductions in terms of revenue from the emergency DR program. While these facilities are still making a valuable contribution to alleviate demand in the overall RTO, it is less likely that other players, like generators, would agree on the level of significance that contribution provides.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?
If you are in the capacity of a participant in a DR program, constantly be thirsty for knowledge, understand the intricacies of the conversation, fight for money to provide professional development training for your team, and don’t rely too much on CSPs to help you understand the whole story. If you are a consultant or CSP, delve deeply into the discussions and truly become a subject matter expert. Educate your clients who are participating in the programs and keep them up to speed as much as they’ll allow you to so that they ultimately perform better for you as a CSP.

For more information on Philadelphia's Energy Program
, click here.

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