AESP Energy Award Review Series: Arizona Public Service’s Resource Operating Platform
image credit: APS
- Apr 30, 2020 1:45 pm GMT
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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!