Despite failures, ConEd targets more energy savings from non-wires pioneer BQDM
By almost any measure, Consolidated Edison's Brooklyn-Queens Demand Management program has been a success, so it is no surprise the utility wants to expand on it. But just how much more energy efficiency can Con Ed squeeze from the neighborhood?
At least 11 MW, according to the utility's plan for 2019.
But first, a refresher: It's been five years since Con Edison proposed the BQDM project. Facing a $1.2 billion substation upgrade, the utility instead went about lining up distributed resources, demand response and efficiency.
While not everything has gone as planned, so far the utility is achieving its goals. Problems with its demand response offering and a scrapped commercial refrigeration program were offset by voltage optimization gains that significantly exceeded expectations.
The plan included 52 MW of demand reductions from non-traditional customer-side and utility-side solutions by the summer of 2018. While there have been some hiccups along the way, the utility has not only avoided the substation but has helped pioneer the "non-wires alternative" as a strategy for utilities everywhere.
The New York Public Service Commission has already approved a petition from Con Edison to extend the BQDM program beyond 2018, allowing the utility to obtain additional load reductions without additional funding. On Jan. 29, the utility filed its 2019 implementation plan with the commission.
A change in the plan
While ConEd achieved its 52 MW peak load reduction target for summer 2018, the utility says it got there with some changes to the original plan. Officials say the program achieved 33.5 MW of peak load reduction from Customer-Sided Solutions (CSS) and about 18 MW from Utility-Sided Solutions (USS). That's not the mix they were initially aiming for, but the utility sees it as an opportunity to build on.
"In aggregate, BQDM achieve[d] its 52 MW peak load reduction as originally anticipated," Con Edison told Utility Dive in an email, adding, "there are several initiatives that continue to provide additional peak load reduction from CSS programs."
The 18 MW of USS was more than the 11 MW originally planned, thanks in part to the utility's Conservation Voltage Optimization (CVO) program and a Distributed Energy Storage System it deployed.
Officials say the CVO efforts "outperformed based on voltage reduction optimization," from 1.5% to 2.5%-3.0%.
ConEd projects that it will achieve customer-side load reductions greater than the 41 MW cumulative level by 2021. In terms of total capacity, Con Edison officials told Utility Dive that the BQDM program "is anticipated to achieve more than 55 MW of peak load reduction by summer 2022."
More load reductions
The utility told regulators it has been evaluating existing projects in the BQDM program and identifying opportunities for DER to provide additional load reductions, "such as through emerging storage technologies that can be a callable resource or provide constant load reduction, while maintaining the reliability of the system."
Based on initial analyses and load relief needs, the company told the PSC that it "anticipates that it can procure approximately 11 MWs of additional customer-side load reductions. Projects that can be implemented in a timely manner by the summers of 2019 through 2021 will be prioritized."
The utility is looking to build on its Commercial Direct Install program, which helps identify and install efficiency measures for customers with a peak demand of 300 kW or less, past a May 2019 peak reduction goal of 12.2 MW. The utility will also pursue opportunities in its multi-family efficiency program, past the June 2019 goal of 4.9 MW.
Con Edison's process for acquiring load reductions in the BQDM program has typically been to cast a wide net, using auctions and requests for proposals. But the utility also told regulators there will likely be situations which justify a sole-source acquisition approach, "most likely where a unique solution is available or a specific customer presents an opportunity."
But the plan is to continue deploying "various competitive procurement approaches," Con Edison said. "Just as the Company originally anticipated, procurement approaches have not been static, one-time buying events, but rather a series of actions on a strategic timing basis as deemed most appropriate for each solution. "
The utility's strategy is becoming a best practice for others. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) developed a "playbook" for implementing non-wires solutions, and pointed to Con Edison's use of a reverse auction in addition to the more-traditional RFP approach.
RMI noted that a successful auction "requires a fairly mature market, with a pool of prequalified bidders that have a good understanding of the solicitation requirements and expectations."
While auctions may provide transparency to the market, RMI cautioned they are "a blunt mechanism. ... Auctions value different types of resources on the basis of price alone and may not allow for comparing the unique attributes of those resources."
Con Edison noted it has used a variety of strategies, depending on the necessary resource.
"To help meet the BQDM peak reliability need, the Company designed and conducted a descending clock auction to procure demand response resources with specific performance attributes," the utility told regulators. "The auction allowed the Company to procure DR resources during fixed windows, while avoiding any resulting snap back of load during other over-load hours."
Despite the successful auction, the utility's BQDM demand response program has been scrapped.
Hiccups in demand response, commercial cooling
Not all of the resources have worked out as planned, and Con Edison officials say they have abandoned some ideas originally included.
A demand response auction procured 22.7 MW of load reduction for 2018, but more than 19 MW was declared "deficient," the utility said. More than half of those awarded demand response contracts had proposed battery storage as a primary means of providing demand response.
"However, with the lack of clarity in the battery permitting process and lengthy time involved, these awardees were not able to have their battery energy storage solution installed for the 2018 capability period," the utility told regulators in its report. "Others also declared partial deficiency due to difficulty with customer acquisition."
Con Edison's Eduardo Guerra, a manager in the company’s energy efficiency unit, told Utility Dive that "customer acquisition and lack of permitting clarity were a barrier to implementation," and that "those resources are no longer pursued."
A commercial refrigeration project also fell through, the utility said.
Con Edison released an RFP in July 2015 and engaged with a new technology vendor for a refrigeration thermal storage battery.
"This new technology vendor has contracted for the full 1.5 MW of load reduction to be provided by summer 2018," the utility said. But "after working with Con Edison personnel and conducting thorough targeted research, the implementation of thermal storage technology was unsuccessful."
That idea has been shelved for now, officials say.
"The company has no plans to acquire load reductions from commercial refrigeration within the BQDM territory at this time," the utility told the PSC.
Despite some difficulties, Guerra said the utility had taken this into account. The "BQDM portfolio of solutions was built with some buffer to mitigate potential underperformance risks," he said.
- Consolidated Edison Brooklyn Queens Demand Management Program, Implementation and Outreach Plan
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