Guest Interview with Nik Schruder (Ontario Power Authority)

  How long have you worked at the Ontario Power Authority?   
I have been working at the OPA for three years in the Evaluations, Measurement and Verification
(EM&V) group in the OPA’s Conservation Division. 

   What is your role at the OPA?
   Currently I am the Manager of Technical Services, which encompasses both EM&V and
   Engineering. Over the past few years, part of my role has been managing the evaluation of both
   residential and C&I demand response programs. Our evaluations focus not only on determining
   the ex post and ex ante estimates of each of our demand response resources, but also included market studies and developing recommendations for the continuous improvement of our DR suite.  

How long have you been involved in demand side activities?
Before joining the OPA, I worked for Navigant Consulting for three years evaluating energy efficiency and demand response programs across Canada and the United States. 

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?

Although the OPA has been implementing DR programs since 2006, we had to overcome many challenges in getting broad acceptance in the general methodology to evaluate, report, and value DR programs outside of our traditional methodologies for energy efficiency programs.  In late 2009, we developed the OPA’s Demand Response Load Impact Protocols, which were instrumental in establishing minimum requirements for DR load impact evaluations and estimating the “insurance” value of DR for both planning purposes and cost effectiveness analysis. By assessing DR programs separately from traditional energy efficiency programs, we were able to elevate the profile of DR resources with our organization.

But, Ontario’s electricity system is currently undergoing significant transformation as we phase out coal (est. 2014) and bring on a large amount of non-hydro renewable resources (4,800 MW of solar and wind generation by 2014). With the continuing drop in electricity demand and the ongoing addition of baseload generation, surplus baseload generation (SBG) remains an issue. This speaks to the need to explore new DR products, including solutions that can be integrated with other supply resources including system operability and regional targeting. Currently we are in the process of retaining a consultant to assist with program concept development and pilot development to develop new and emerging DR program concepts.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?
Ontario has set some aggressive conservation targets to meet both in the interim (4,500 MW and 13 TWh by 2015) and in the long term (7,100 MW and 28 TWh by 2030). Demand response will, and continues to play, a vital role in contributing towards these targets. Although DR has seen exciting growth in the past few years (over 500 MW), it remains a relatively new product and is not widely known across the commercial and industrial sector.  A challenge remains to raise the profile of DR across Ontario, in such to enable new DR products in the market and take advantage of DR as a valuable resource for all stakeholders.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?
As the energy sector in Ontario continues to grow and become more complex, the need for expertise and knowledge of new program offering including DR and smart grid is evident. In contrast with traditional energy efficiency programs, DR offers many new solutions to load management that require fresh ideas and perspectives which young professionals could play a vital role. I am excited to be part of this transformation and invite others to consider this challenging, yet rewarding, field.

For more information on Ontario Power Authority
, click here.

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