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Researchers propose residential congestion pricing for grid

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I've been a business journalist since 1985 when I received an MBA from Penn State. I covered energy, technology, and venture capital for The Philadelphia Business Journal from 1998 through 2013....

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  • Aug 31, 2021 10:30 am GMT
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Some toll roads use congestion pricing to provide incentives for drivers to travel on them when they’re less busy.

A Texas A&M University professor and employees of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Commonwealth Edison are proposing that grids do the same thing.

Le Xie, Anupam Thatte and Athindra Venkatraman made their proposal in an article in the June issue of Utilities Policy. It’s based on two ideas: that the costs of transporting power aren’t the same for all customers and that not all customers have the same impact on the grid.

“If a particular customer is actually sending some of their solar panel energy back to the grid during the peak hours, they should be viewed as a positive asset to the grid, and that individual should be somehow compensated,” Xie said in an article on the Texas A&M Department of Engineering website. “And if someone is using their air conditioner an excessive amount when the grid is extremely stressed, then that individual is contributing to the strain on the grid and might need to pay a higher portion of the delivery cost.”

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To calculate a customer’s impact, Xie and his colleagues suggest using smart meters that can measure power consumption in 15-minute periods to determine which customers are contributing to peak load and which are easing it by lowering their power consumption or shipping power from solar plus storage systems back to the grid.

The three performed a case study of their proposed rate using 200 homes, of which 50 had EVs, 50 had solar generation units and 100 had neither. Under it, 90% of EV owners had reduced rates from charging their vehicles at night. Solar customers saved the most if they had energy storage systems that used a smart scheduling algorithm for charging and discharging. And more than 80% of the customers without EVs or solar generation saw their bills drop slightly.

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