In partnership with PLMA, this group is for practitioners from energy utilities, solution providers, and trade allies to share load management expertise and explore innovative approaches to program delivery, pricing constructs, and technology adoption.

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Load Management Remediation During High Temperatures

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Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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Temperatures are reaching an unprecedented global high. Climate change is driving massive heating and droughts. This year, the USA broke all records for high temperatures. According to Reuters’ analysis of North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) data, 9,656 outages occurred annually between 2015 and 2020. Ominously, that is approximately double the average during the previous six-year period. This is not the culmination: indications are that 2023 and further years may generate even worse heatwaves. NERC’s 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment predicted power outages in parts of the Midwest, California and Texas this summer.

Although various targets are engaged to reach carbon net-zero, immediate remediation is needed by utilities to ensure that people do not suffer from the heatwaves, including those vulnerable citizens who are most at risk.

 

Ensuring Supply Can Keep Up With Demand

Greater insight and control over energy consumption will be critical for both utilities and consumers as the distribution system faces heat stress. Increased energy demand during the summer months, as more use is made of AC, and further challenges that arise from changing user behavior and demand, increasing electric vehicle (EV) adoption and microgrids and other distributed energy resources (DERs) infrastructure.

 

Distributed Intelligence – A Positive Step Forward

A Distributed Intelligence (DI) platform combines smart platforms (meters, devices and other sensors) with peer-to-peer connectivity. Applications can be used in the field to solve existing and new challenges. Key benefits from this approach include grid optimization, asset management, integration of DERs, and consumer engagement—all essential to ensuring supply can keep up with demand in hot weather.

 

Engaging the End User to Ameliorate Peak Energy Grid Stress

This DI technology provides opportunities to enable consumers to make improved decisions about their energy usage. One of the easiest ways is giving consumers access to their consumption data in real time through their meter over broadband. They can then often change their daily habits to reduce costs and balance their domestic budget.

A well-designed demand response (DR) program advances this technology further. The concept is straightforward: during high demand periods, end users reduce their usage and are rewarded with an incentive payment or another form of financial compensation. This additional to savings realized from using less energy during peak price periods.

Some DR programs are operated by the customer. More sophisticated direct control programs allow utility companies to interact with appliances at a distance, and, for example, allow utility companies to automatically turn off appliances such as air conditioning for a short time when necessary to prevent serious overloads. This operation works without any need for intervention by the customer.

Other types of programs require the consumer to take action. For example, Time-of-Use (TOU) or peak alerts need to share real-time data with consumers. These insights help consumers made educated decisions about which appliances can be turned-down or switched-off in response to pricing signals from the utility.

 

Successful DR Program Insights

A successful DR program must be carefully designed if it is to operate successfully. Everything from technology implementations (smart meters, analytics solutions, and complementary systems) needs to be integrated with compensation, billing, and regulatory frameworks, and all must be included in the system. DR programs by utility companies must engage customers in depth, including basic energy education, to community awareness campaigns, green living and competitions and other awareness issues such as recycling.

This method is to utilize a partnership between utility and end-user so that customers can do their bit to prevent blackouts and brownouts during a heatwave, and ensure the reliability of electric generation and distribution.

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