4 FM quick reads on demand response
1. Involve Utility As Part Of Demand-Response Decisions
The first step for managers in determining whether to participate in a utility demand-response program is to bring the local utility into the process. Programs vary by utility, as do requirements and benefits. To benefit the utility and the customer, programs must be designed to meet the operating needs of the facility.
The utility can explain participation requirements and is likely to have several years of data on energy use and metered demand for the facility. Both data sets are necessary for managers to evaluate the potential benefits of program participation.
The first indication of a facility's suitability to participate is its load profile. A relatively flat load profile is less likely to produce financial benefits for a customer than a profile with a significant difference between peak and off-peak hours. By comparison, a load profile with a large variation offers potentially large benefits.
But a facility's load profile only identifies the potential benefits from participation. Managers also need to identify and quantify individual loads the facility can curtail or shift to off-peak hours to meet program requirements. The first step in the process is to identify and quantify major electrical loads that contribute to a facility's peak demand. The next step is to evaluate each load for its potential to temporarily interrupt their operation during peak hours or to shift the time they operate to off-peak hours.
The key to successful participation in a demand-response program is support within the facility. Managers who try to take part in demand-response programs without the support of the facility's occupants are more likely to fail. When managers try to impose programs without understanding occupants' willingness to participate, everyone becomes an exception.
3. Demand Response Is Inexpensive Way To Save
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is that most demand response programs are low- or no-cost ways to earn energy savings.
Utilities will give many large consumers the smart meters required to collect interval data and therefore the ability to predict power use. As a result, companies and institutions are increasingly choosing to plan their curtailment in anticipation of a demand response call from their local utility providers.
For example, a laboratory with 15 rooftop units can plan ahead of time and when they get a call from their utility, they can push a button on their EMS that slows the fans of the rooftop units slightly, says Lindsay Audin, president of Energywiz. The laboratory doesn't lose that much in cooling capacity, but in conjunction with other steps, it can meet the utility demands for curtailment.
Ultimately that's a zero-cost option, because all that most organizations have to do is program an extra control feature into their existing EMS. Another example is elective electrical loads, such as hot water heaters. Audin says that if you have multiple tanks, you can sequence the heat-up controls to manage demand.
Before working with a utility, facility managers need to collect data on their organization's power use and make an honest, practical assessment about on-site power generation. This can be gathered through interval data from smart meters. In some cases, organizations are offered the meters outright. In others, the utility defrays cost through incentive programs.
Armed with power-use information, facility managers can begin to plan demand response efforts. And while utilities might seem like a sensible place to start, brokers can be involved as well. Utilities often use brokers to pull together facilities interested in participating in demand response programs.
However a facility manager elects to proceed — through a broker or directly through the utility — Audin suggests making an incentive listing published by the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program another stop in the pursuit of demand-response programs.
4. Demand Response Has Number of Variables
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is that demand response programs have a number of variables involved.
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, voluntary load-curtailment and demand-side management are not the same as demand response. Demand response is binary. When demand surges too high, utilities request a "response" from large users, and they — the utilities — are willing to pay for that reaction. And steamy summer weather is a good time for facility managers to learn how they can best benefit from an energy grid at its limits.
Typically, demand response happens when a utility customer either curtails load or increases on-site generation to supplement utility power consumption. Demand response is really just a new and improved version of interruptible contracts, which were pretty rigid, says Richard Lubinski, president of Think Energy Management. When facilities do curtail demand upon request, utilities will pay for the capacity that is freed up by the reduction in demand.
Essentially, he says, there are two kinds of demand response; one is at the capacity or generation level, the other at the distribution level. For most facility managers, their concern will be the former.
Genuine demand response is a relatively rare event — most organizations only face genuine demand response events for 10 to 20 hours annually, says Lindsay Audin, president of Energywiz, Inc. Nevertheless, demand response is now expanding beyond power generation; natural gas and some water utilities, particularly in the desert Southwest, are also experimenting with demand-response programs.
Demand response also fits neatly in emergency planning. For owners who already own on-site generating capacity, planning for demand response can be part of a sufficiency plan, mostly because a contract with the utility helps ensure the maintenance and regular use of generation capacity — helping ensure generation potential will be available in the case of emergency or extended outage.
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