Guest Interview with Bob Ives - Northeast Utilities (NU)

   How long have you worked for NU?
  I started at NU as a contractor and worked for 18 months before being hired as a permanent
   employee. This December I am celebrating my ninth year as an NU employee, but have been working
   here for ten and a half years.

    What is your role at NU?
   We are very fortunate to have a very active Demand Response program here at NU, and I am in charge of the day to day operations of that program. I work with all of our customers to maximize our contribution to ISO-NE's demand response programs. I handle both real time demand response and real time emergency generation. I work with potential new customers as our main point of enrolling customers and ensuring that all of the ISO required monitoring equipment is installed and the customer is ready to respond to any events that may occur. 

How long have you been involved in demand side activities?
Ten years.

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?
The biggest challenges we face in Connecticut is that before we transitioned into our forward capacity market (FCM) based demand response, the state legislature offered large incentives to customers to enroll in DR. That has created a problem today because many customers were used to receiving $80 per kW year to shed during DR audits or events. The FCM markets have cleared well below that and trying to maintain and keep customers interested in and explain that they still a critical part of the program is difficult. That is why I am always trying to come up with easier ways to respond to events such as implementing Auto DR.

What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?
For eight of the last ten years our previous governors would try to redirect our program funding to the state's general fund to solve budgetary problems. Today we have a new governor along with a new Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and they are fully committed to EE and Demand Response to the point of trying to, increase our budgets.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?
Making DR cost-effective for our commercial and industrial customers to want to shed load at peak times on the grid. The second issue is the cost of implementing smart grid to fully integrate all customers into the DR market. If we cannot find a way to bring smart meters to our customers in a cost effective way we will need to find ways to offset the growing demand on our generation systems.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?
I love DR and Smart Grid. I have seen firsthand where our decisions have saved our customers from rolling brownouts or overloading substations. That is very satisfying that you can see in real time the impact that your job has. My advice for young professionals considering a career in this area is to think outside the box and try to bring their knowledge of new technologies and systems to make DR easier to implement and know that our work truly affects people and that is very gratifying.

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