In partnership with AESP: The increasing roles of DERs, connected technology and Big Data are driving rapid change in energy efficiency. As we shape the Utility of the future, this community will help you keep up with the latest developments. 


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AESP Energy Award Review Series: Arizona Public Service’s Resource Operating Platform

image credit: APS

At the recent 30th Annual AESP Conference in Anaheim, California, the organization continued its tradition of honoring some of the leaders and innovators in the utility business by awarding eight organizations with 2020 AESP Energy Awards. These awards are great ways to recognizing new ideas and initiatives in the sector and opening up those successes to potentially be replicated by peers across the industry.

One of the ways to share that success after the conference was through a series of webinars AESP  held to celebrate these award winners and give them a platform to discuss their projects. Because AESP and Energy Central are partners in running and promoting the Energy Central ‘Energy Efficiency Community’, I wanted to make sure members of the community that were not able to sit in on these webinars were still able to take away some of the important lessons that took place, so I sat in myself and took notes. The last of the eight awards to present in this series of webinars was Arizona Public Service on their Resource Operating Platform, a program for which they were honored with ‘Outstanding Achievement in Emerging Tools & Technologies.’

Presenting on behalf of Arizona Public Service (APS) were Renee Guillory and Tom Hines. They shared outcomes from the customer technology rewards initiatives that were deployed by APS to help harness innovation on both sides of the meter. Through their innovative approach to utility demand response programs, they added pre-cooling opportunities to demand response events, built better customer experiences in demand response events by taking into account extreme summer temperatures throughout the desert regions, and prioritized the customer point of view.

As with all demand response strategies, this initiative from APS recognized that the value of energy saved is not the same for all hours of the day or the year and that the main goal is shifting demand away from peak demand and towards when cheaper and cleaner energy is available. To tap into that, APS launched their rewards program that came with three main parts: Storage Rewards (utilizing batteries), Reserve Rewards (for water heaters), and Cool Rewards (tapping into smart thermostats). With these three avenues, APS sought ways to flattening the duck curve by “filling it’s belly.” While many demand response programs from utilities have these same goals and approaches, APS recognized the value of putting these three types of programs under a single platform which ended up making it much more deployable.

Especially in Arizona, APS recognized the importance of the summer heat and prioritizing the customer needs in that regard if they were going to get participating. They wanted customers to come away from demand events with a positive experience so they would participate further, and that means making sure their homes remained comfortable enough. To do so, before a demand event APS would pre-cool houses so that the drop off from the smart thermostat event being engaged would be as significant on comfort levels (see graph below):

Similar pre-event precautions were likewise taken when it came to the water heating program, preheating water as much as possible in the morning and then right before the peak event so that the only energy needed in those participating households was maintenance water heating.

Given the aggressive clean energy and decarbonization goals that APS has set, these demand response strategies are going to be more and more critical, and the leaders at the utility recognize how valuable of a clean energy program these demand response events really are. So, APS is blazing a path on how demand response can be, among many other things, a clean energy strategy!


Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 4, 2020

I wonder what the status is of solar and photo-voltaics there? Does APS have a role in installing and/or buying excess capacity from individuals?

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on May 4, 2020

Mark,   APS like all utilties give Net-Mertering under the Federal FERC rules. When you make extra kWh's you get credit for them and can use them back when you don't make extra like at night when load and the Peak Power hours are over. 

A big key is how much credit they give you. In Germany they used to give extra cridit called Feed In Tariff. FIT. By giving extra credit since it was 100% Clean Renewable Power at 6 times what they charge you it really encouraged people to be efficient and not run any high power appliances. They gradually lowered it to normal rates. 

   Today with APS Solar credits customers are on a special rate plan, some have demand charges and an added monthly connection charge. It's all trying to make customer response help the GRID. If they gave Solar clean energy credits it would really encourage more that have Solar and adjust their use.  

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on May 4, 2020

I'd love to hear more about customers in the APS area using the Power Wall and or other storage devices to cover the duck curve. I see that as a great win for the Utility and Customers. Have anu used the Nickel Iron batteries? What other types of storage have been used? 

Renee Guillory's picture
Renee Guillory on Jul 2, 2020

Hi, Matt, Mark, and Jim - thanks so much for the comments and questions.    <-- this link will take you to a page where you can download anonymized data on customer-owned or customer-leased solar and solar+battery installations in APS territory (includes manufacturers). This site doesn't track APS-owned systems that are customer-sited (like our Flagstaff Community Power Project/Solar Partner/Solar Communities fleets;  the Schools & Government fleet; or our utility-scale solar or solar+battery fleets).  To put the minutiae into perspective, APS is the #2 large utility in the country in terms of solar per customer, and we are #5 in the nation for total solar capacity installed.  We are one of just a handful of utilities in the U.S. with a 100% clean energy commitment:  65% clean energy by 2030 (45% from renewable sources) and we must produce 100% clean carbon-free energy by 2050.  Not sure if this map will post, but Advanced Energy Economy is tracking commitments like this and here is what the current map looks like: 

In the AESP webinar, we presented on parts of our "Rewards" portfolio.  With Storage Rewards, we have installed a fleet of residential-scale batteries (19.4kWh/7.2kW).  Storage technologies include thermal storage, too, such as our grid-connected thermostat DR program, Cool Rewards (see above), and our grid-connected water heater program, Reserve Rewards.  We look forward to sharing more information about this portfolio once our impact studies are complete. 

We agree that when we can harness innovative technologies that customers enjoy, in a way that gives the DERs resource adequacy/equivalency, that can greatly help to integrate renewables and mitigate the duck curve.  We expect that DERs will be key to meeting our clean energy commitment milestones!  Please feel free to peruse these resources for more information:



Matt Chester's picture

Thank Matt for the Post!

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