Demand Response Is Inexpensive Way To Save

  August 16, 2012

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.


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