Metering, a Key Role in Demand Response Management
By James Piper, P.E. August 2012 - Energy Efficiency
An important requirement for successful participation is having metering equipment in place. Program managers will need real-time data on energy use to gauge the program's performance, as well as whether the facility needs to shed additional loads in order to meet the demand-level target.
Larger facilities typically already have the needed equipment. Smaller facilities might require a significant investment in metering technology to ensure they meet performance requirements.
Not all facilities can or should participate in demand side-management programs, even if they have a large number of loads that, in theory, could be shed. For example, some health care facilities might not be able to shed electrical loads without risking patient safety or comfort. Similarly, facilities with large computer or telecommunication operations will have difficulty turning off electrical loads without putting equipment operation at risk. But such facilities are the exceptions.
Demand-response programs carry risks. Managers will have to compare these risks to potential benefits. Successful participation can produce energy savings, but the failure to meet the pre-established level of curtailment could result in financial penalties. Before committing to participation, managers must understand the benefits and penalties, as well as the way each one will impact facility operations.
The benefits of demand-response programs do not end with reduced costs from load curtailment during demand-response events. Such events might occur only several times a year. But by investing in the equipment that allows facilities to participate in the program, managers have a powerful tool that can help them further reduce their organizations' overall energy costs.
By monitoring electricity demand, managers can set a limit for peak demand based on historical-use data. As the use level approaches this set level, technicians can use the system to shed loads, reducing demand charges for the month, resulting in cost and energy savings.
James Piper, P.E., is a national facilities management consultant based in Bowie, Md. He has more than 25 years with facilities maintenance and engineering management issues.
The Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) serves electric utilities and energy policymakers as a resource for information, ideas, and innovation related to electricity demand. Created in 2008, IEE works with the electric utility industry, regulators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to advance customer-side solutions for energy management, including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed power, and customer-focused technologies.
IEE's goal is to advance customer-side solutions for energy management through research reports, policy briefs, events, in-person meetings, and video dialogues.
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For more, visit www.edisonfoundation.net/iee.