Demand-side response and the benefits for utilities

Electricity demand and supply both fluctuate throughout a day or season. Some fluctuations are predicted, such as a peak in demand in certain hours, while others are unpredicted. Historically, the balancing of this effect was performed by increasing or decreasing the output of power plants. This often requires large investments in capital-intensive facilities (generators, frequency regulators etc) that are not used on a constant basis. That means generation capacity that goes mostly wasted.

Electricity users (demand side) now can change their patterns of use according to incentives offered by utilities. The rollout of smart meters means consumers too can provide this balancing flexibility, not only power plants. For instance, smart meters could tell at what times of day energy can be saved by shifting or reducing energy use at the end user side.

Demand-side response (DSR) refers to “changes in electric usage by end-use customers from their normal consumption patterns in response to changes in the price of electrcity over time, or to incentive payments designed to induce lower electricity use at times of high wholesale market prices or when system reliability is jeopardised” (DOE, 2006)

As utilities advance towards managing the grid as an integrated network comprising of two-way communication elements, smart meter data is increasingly important to understand system behavior as a unique entity. Utilities can benefit in numerous ways by adopting DSR technologies and processes.

Here are some of the benefits the adoption of DSR brings to utilities and the electricity grid:

Advanced planning and contracting

Utilities can plan and contract at wholesale electricity markets accurately in response to demand. Electricity wholesale and retail markets linked.

New customer services

Budget setting and high usage alerts, online portals with easy to understand graphics, building energy reports and easily downloadable energy usage data which customers can upload into their preferred app.

Minimizing the environmental impact of generating plants with poor emissions records

Coal-fired plants are utilised only for the baseload needed and not to meet peak demand hours of usage thus improving the environmental credential of the facility/utility.

Integration of new resources

Improved load planning allows utilities to easily integrate power capacity from various sources such as renewable energy (wind, solar etc) and also from micro generation equipment (small PV, CHP etc), significantly improving resource efficiency.

Grid system optimisation

Utilities can advance on system reliability by shifting load shapes to keep a well balanced grid system. Utilising customer smart meter data, loads can be predicted and normalised according to demand. Such system optimisation can assist in enhanced outage restoration when occures by applying load shedding techniques. Load shape objectives commonly associated with DSR are shown below (LM=load management):

DSM techniques

For all demand-side response programs to work properly, customers will need to let the utility install two-way metering equipment at their homes or businesses. Utilities with smart meters deployed have saved several millions of dollars through DSR programmes. In addition, the ability to remotely connect and disconnect service means that customers receive much quicker service when moving in or out of a residence or business premises.

Smart meters provide a digital link between the utility and the consumer and opens the door for efficient energy management. Innovations within the smart meter and DSR industry are already disrupting the status quo. Utilities are facing the inevitable adoption of DSR technologies and practices. Meazon is at the forefront of this technological disruption by introducing its size and cost efficient submeters to the energy efficiency markets.

Meazon’s Bizy energy monitoring and control platform features wireless, easy to install and revolutionary small energy meters, with an open interface to the cloud and low Total Cost of Ownership. The platform is integrated to a Microsoft Azure cloud based energy analytics platform, providing meaningful energy management anywhere anytime.