AP News, DER-Grid Edge, Energy Efficiency

Report: Utilities moving away from traditional demand response programs

Based on data collected from 190 utilities, representing 64% of total U.S. customer accounts, the Smart Electric Power Alliance found utilities enrolled 20.8 GW of demand response capacity, and dispatched 12.3 GW of DR capacity (59.2% of enrolled capacity) in 2018.

The commercial and industrial (C&I) segment contributed over half of total reported DR capacity, 13.3 GW.

Both mass market and C&I demand response programs are incorporating advanced technologies and tools to create increased flexibility and savings.

Legacy programs are being phased out, utilities are offering suites of options, diverse technology types are being integrated, and cutting-edge technology is being tested, according to SEPA.

As programs are expanded and new options are added, DR stands to potentially deliver $15 billion in savings each year by 2030.

Other takeaways of SEPA’s research include:
• Investment in thermostat programs remains strong, with 53 utilities calling on thermostats in 2018, and 17 utilities indicating piloting or expanding their thermostat programs in 2019 and beyond.
• 54 utilities reported offering behavioral DR programs, with these programs using two different approaches: 1) traditional event-based programs, and 2) time-based behavioral programs. Behavioral programs, regardless of approach, are using advanced customer engagement strategies to prompt participation.
• Programs are increasingly providing customers with options that utilize smart home and voice-enabled devices. The success of these programs relies on customer engagement and education.
• 38 utility-run EV managed charging projects have taken place from 2012-2019, with utility interest continuing to grow in direct load control via charging infrastructure as well as automaker telematics.
• Three pilot programs in the U.S. are demonstrating how demand response can play a role in transactive energy.
• Clean Peak Standards and commitments to go 100% carbon-free are encouraging utilities to pursue demand response programs as part of an integrated portfolio of DERs.

“Utilities and the industry are uncovering a host of capabilities for demand response as they adopt more advanced technologies. In order to fully take advantage of the benefits of new technologies and programs, customers need to be engaged, educated, and feel invested,” said Medha Surampudy, Senior Research Analyst and lead author of the 2019 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot.