By Ben Murdock, Industry Analyst
Demand response (DR) is a complex topic to communicate to customers. Some strategies for DR require ongoing customer effort or significant initial investment that make programs unappealing to customers. The complexity of DR programs can be frustrating for utility marketers and planners.
Removing some complexity from the problem and looking at a small scale example can be encouraging. By their definition, microgrids are a simplified way of looking at things allowing us to remove a lot of moving parts from consideration.
The village of Hartley Bay, a remote First Nations community in British Columbia, is an excellent example of DR success. The electrical grid is completely isolated with generation provided by three diesel generators. One of the generators is less efficient than the others requiring much more fuel for a marginal kWh during times of peak consumption.
The Hartley Bay grid was a perfect candidate for a demand response program, and thanks to twenty variable thermostats and twelve load controllers, peak demand fell 15%. This was a huge success that led to significant fuel savings.
Most programs don’t have this kind of a result. Because of the small size of Hartley Bay, the costs and benefits of this initiative were relatively simple to calculate and communicate. DR planners at larger utilities are simply working with a more complex problem.
To help manage the complexity of demand response in their service territories, many utilities are turning to smart grid technology and data analytics. Identifying key sections of the grid and understanding preferences of key customers help marketers and planners focus their efforts and improve the effectiveness of their programs.
Hydro One used data to identify prime customers for its engaging in-home energy display. By providing data to their customers about the impacts of behavior changes, Fortis BC was able to encourage long term commitment from customers. Data won’t remove the complexity from your network, but it can help you identify the best customers to target and help you remove complexity from the problem you have to solve.
Technologies – Joule: https://www.chartwellinc.com/energylibrary-docdetails/?id=1120
Behavior – Conserver Club: https://www.chartwellinc.com/energylibrary-docdetails/?id=1115
Benchmarks – Datasheet: https://www.chartwellinc.com/energylibrary-docdetails/?id=1122