New time-of-use programs in Missouri and why they matter
image credit: Photo 29534688 © Stephan Pietzko -
Here’s some encouraging news for those of us concerned about load management in America. Evergy and Ameren are both rolling out new time-of-use programs for their customers in Missouri. The initiative has been greatly facilitated by the recent and continued adoption of smart meters in the state. Ameren started replacing analog meters on the 1.2 million homes it serves this past July and hopes to finish the rollout by 2025. Evergy is further ahead, having finished installing its smart meters last year, when it also began offering time-of-use rates.
This development comes at a time when the implementation of energy efficiency programs have stagnated across the board, and even regressed. According to the Energy Efficiency Impact Report, published in December, the Property Assessed Clean Energy investment, which is an instrument used to finance energy efficiency upgrades on private property, was beginning to slow after seeing a rapid rise from 2012 to 2017. On a similar note, ESCOs investments in energy efficiency had leveled off at around $5 billion. According to the report, that figure represented just a fragment of the ESCO market potential, which they estimated to be between $92 billion and $201 billion in 2016 dollars.
Maybe this wouldn’t matter much if generation had scaled at a similar rate, but it hasn’t. After a summer of blackouts in the west, and even more close calls, power companies should use everything available to provide reliable service.
I expect to see a renewed interest across the industry in residential programs like the ones Evergy and Ameren are introducing in Missouri. PG&E’s flex alerts proved vital in keeping the power on for millions of Californians this year. However, service would have been much better had the utility boasted more substantial residential load management tools. Other utilities noticed and are acting.