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South Carolina electric co-op expands program using electric water heaters for peak shaving

image credit: © Packetized Energy

The generation and transmission cooperative owned by South Carolina’s 20 electric distribution cooperatives has reached a five-year agreement with a company whose smart thermostats enable electric water heaters to match their energy demand with real-time grid conditions.

The agreement between Central Electric Power Cooperative and Packetized Energy codifies the expansion of a pilot program under which Central had been testing Packetized Energy’s Mello thermostats since 2019. The thermostats are integrated with Packetized Energy’s Nimble energy flexibility software program to produce lower demand on Central’s system during peaks and enable Central’s member cooperatives to offer rate structures that allow their consumer members to share in the savings resulting from the lower peak demand.

Packetized Energy grew out of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) and in September was named a finalist for a multi-million dollar award under ARPA-E’s Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program, a designation that provided the Burlington, Vt., company with an initial small business grant of $150,000.

Central isn’t the only Carolina electric cooperative exploring the potential of using smart water heaters for peak shaving.

Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative is offering free Google Nest thermostats to members who enroll in its Connect to Save program, which allows the co-op to minimally adjust its members’ thermostats during times of peak demand. The North Carolina co-op also is offering $50 incentives to members who include their water heaters in the program.


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