Webinar debunks DR myths, stresses need for simplicity and clarity

September 27, 2020

Demand response is a proven benefit, and residential customers do participate in programs and enjoy the results, Chris King, chief regulatory officer for Emeter, told a Friday webinar audience, debunking several myths about DR.  The Demand Response Coordinating Committee (DRCC) event examined current DR programs and the outlook for the future and was moderated by Dan Delurey, DRCC's executive director.

More than 100 pilot and other large-scale programs have shown the benefits of DR, King said.  One-third to one-half of customers in any given area participate in the more mature programs, and typically 90% of participants recommend it to family and friends, he noted.  These satisfaction figures were backed by the results of Pepco's $2 million PowerCentsDC pilot, a program that EMeter managed and that showed positive response from customers to price signals (SGT, Sep-10).

Another myth King refuted is that large industrial customers are the best targets for DR, when in fact residential consumers account for up to 40% of the peak and are more price responsive.  As for the myth that residential load control is enough, King said combining load control with dynamic prices nearly doubles DR.  Smart meters and DR are also cost-effective, he said, noting that regulators in 10 US states, the EU and Australia have litigated business cases and found them to be cost-effective.

As for who benefits the most from DR, the myth is utilities do, when in fact most savings from not building or operating peaker plants flow to customers -- though utilities benefit too from lower peaks, King said.

Some 40 million smart meters are being installed in the US, and as they are deployed, lessons will be learned, especially in Texas and California, where 17 million of the meters are targeted, King said.  Other trends for DR in the coming years will see wind and solar power greatly increase the value of DR, and the industry will discover and utilize vast amounts of existing energy storage, he said.

Utilities will shift to “Smart Meter 2.0” to support DR and consumers, he continued.  “1.0 was about installing meters and getting bills out.  2.0 is about consumer engagement and IT for dynamic pricing and energy information, and will lead to smart network application platforms,” King said.  A final prediction was that Cisco will build ZigBee into its WiFi routers.

From the utility side, Mark Martinez, manager of DR program development for Southern California Edison, said it is important for DR programs to be simple to understand and administer.  “DR is a relationship.  Keep these customers trained and enabled,” Martinez said.

Avoid multiple and competing programs that can confuse customers, result in double payments and increase costs otherwise used to fund customer incentives, he advised.  SoCal Edison has also found that direct marketing is most effective for small and medium class customers.  Real utility value from DR ultimately results from its ties to integrated resource and distribution planning, he noted.

The panel's third participant, EnerNOC president David Brewster, remarked that his firm has seen more dispatches in 2010 than ever before, driven by the hot temperatures and the rebound in demand.  “We dispatched four times yesterday,” he noted, mainly from hot weather in the Mid-Atlantic region.

© 2010 Modern Markets Intelligence Inc..  IMPORTANT: This article was reproduced from the September 27, 2020 issue of Smart Grid Today with the limited permission of the owner.  To view the full story on Smart Grid Today’s website, please visithttp://www.smartgridtoday.com/public/2097.cfm?sd=31

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