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Increased Energy Efficiency Can Help Manage Peak Demand, New Report Says

March 2007 - Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency programs can be effective resources for reducing peak demand as well as overall load, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The report, Examining the Peak Demand Impacts of Energy Efficiency: A Review of Program Experience and Industry Practices , documents how energy efficiency programs can deliver savings during peak demand periods when the power grid is most stressed. Energy efficiency savings can also reduce the high costs of power during peak demands, which typically occur during hot summer conditions.

“Energy efficiency programs typically are valued mostly for the long-term electricity savings they achieve—savings that occur throughout the year or over the heating or cooling seasons,” says Dan York, senior research associate for ACEEE’s Utilities Program. “However, our analysis of these programs shows that they also deliver critical savings during peak periods when power costs are high and supplies are constrained.”

“Using energy efficiency to reduce peak demands is especially attractive because such savings get built into our energy systems; the savings occur every time an energy-efficient device is used, whether that’s a high-efficiency commercial lighting system, a more efficient air-conditioner, or a high efficiency motor,” says Martin Kushler, Utilities Program director. “With energy efficiency, we not only get peak demand savings, but also year-round or seasonal savings that yield lower power plant emissions, including greenhouse gases, and lower overall customer and utility costs.”

With this increased reliance comes a corresponding need for accurate data on both energy and peak demand impacts associated with efficiency resources. Program evaluations have tended to focus on energy savings (measured in kilowatt-hours), says ACEEE.

Corresponding peak demand savings (measured in kilowatts) generally have been less well-measured. The report observes that with an increasing emphasis on peak demand savings, the need for greater understanding and accurate quantification of the peak demand impacts of energy efficiency will increase. The report notes that there are solid foundations in place for establishing a firmer, broader knowledge base of the peak demand impacts of energy efficiency.

The report concludes that there could be an advantageous convergence of need, capabilities, and costs emerging for estimating peak demand impacts. Rapid increases in the capabilities of metering and communications technologies can yield lower costs for data gathering and analysis.

“The energy efficiency industry is well-poised to advance the capability to quantify the peak demand impacts of energy-efficient technologies,” says Kushler. “This is a positive development given the increasing interest in having utilities and power system operators expand the use of energy efficiency to meet growing customer demand.”


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