- The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) this week issued its 2017 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot, highlighting the way utilities are leaning on demand management strategies to integrate distributed resources.
- Written along with Navigant Research, the report finds utilities reported a total enrolled demand response capacity of 13,629 MW last year, and total dispatched capacity of 10,696 MW. Some 78% of enrolled capacity was dispatched last year — about the equivalent of 20 500 MW peaker plants.
- Demand response programs focused on air conditioning cycling have the most customers with more than 2.6 million. However, utilities say water heater programs provide more flexibility; they called DR events an average of 36 times per year for water heaters, versus 8 for air conditioning.
SEPA's first demand response snapshot highlights new ways utilities are leaning on load management techniques, moving away from emergency-based dispatch and towards a system focused on bringing more distributed resources to bear
The report finds almost 30% of utilities are already using demand response to help integrate high penetrations of DERs on their systems, and 70% are planning or considering such applications. And utilities are turning to digital communication and social media to engage with customers surrounding demand response events.
Within utility demand response programs, 40% of respondents use email, 27% use text messages and 12% utilize social media.
“Utilities often define and measure demand response differently, which made aggregating the data we received for this first Demand Response Market Snapshot particularly challenging,” Brenda Chew, the SEPA research analyst, who led the survey and co-authored the report, said in a statement.
Chew said the report defines demand response "broadly," focused on changes in customers’ normal consumption patterns, triggered by price or market signals. Demand response "isn’t only about load shedding or shifting anymore," she said. "It’s being used to help manage the real-time impacts of the increasingly large amounts of renewable energy on the grid.”
SEPA and Navigant's report analyzes 2016 annual data on demand response programs, submitted by more than 100 utilities.
“DR was traditionally used for emergency purposes — to turn customer’s electric appliances on and off,” said Nabigant Principal Research Analyst Brett Feldman. “But technology has progressed, customers expect more choice and control, and DR programs have become more precise and customer-friendly, all of which benefits utility grid operators and end-use customers."