- Demand response provider Voltus on Dec. 1 became the first aggregator of retail customers to enter the Southwest Power Pool's integrated market, though the grid operator says there is more opportunity in the region for load management resources.
- Voltus, which operates in all of the North American regional electricity markets, is focused on aggregating the demand flexibility of commercial and industrial customers. SPP launched its expanded marketplace five years ago to accommodate a wider range of resources.
- The SPP market covers 17 states and has more than 5,000 MW of demand response potential. The operator reduced its reserve margin from 13.6% to 12% in 2017, and Voltus says demand response can help maintain smooth grid operations.
While SPP has yet to rely on demand response in its integrated market, individual utilities in the grid operator's territory utilize the resource daily. So while there are load reduction programs operating across the footprint, Voltus' entrance is a milestone for the grid operator.
SPP's "robust market and transmission grid present great opportunities for the development of further demand response in our region," the grid operator told Utility Dive in an email.
"We've watched closely as Voltus has worked to open other markets to third-party demand response," SPP COO Carl Monroe said in a statement. "We're eager to see how Voltus' technology and services will unlock not only the value of various types of demand response, but all types of distributed energy resources in the SPP footprint."
Voltus officials say the company's commercial and industrial demand response customers have thousands of sites in the SPP footprint.
The capacity Voltus provides will primarily be used for ancillary services but can also bid into energy markets. In SPP, only about 10% of peak capacity is eligible to participate in demand response aggregation but Dana Guernsey, vice president of product and markets for Voltus, said that leaves plenty of room to grow.
We're "starting off on the smaller side in SPP," Guernsey told Utility Dive, but "we still have enormous upside."
"For customers, it is seamless," Guernsey said. "I view us as a conduit between a complex electricity market and what also can be a complex operation at a customer facility."
The company boasts retailers, big box chains and massive steel plants among its demand response customers. "Anyone who has operational flexibility," said Guernsey. "Those are resources called on to meet peak demand needs, to manage grid stress."