ORIGINAL REPORTING: California’s Demand Response To Demand Peaks
California Utilities’ Residential Demand Response Expansion Challenges
Herman K. Trabish, June 7, 2022 (California Current)
Editor’s note: California’s peak demands can be reduced by customer responses to system operator calls for reductions if these challenges are met.
Plans by California’s three dominant investor-owned utilities to expand their residential demand response (DR) programs are hampered by a lack of customer awareness, low adoption rates of smart thermostats and program narrowness, according to a recent market survey for Southern California Edison.
These programs would help meet growing reliability threats from climate crisis-exacerbated extreme weather events by rewarding utility customers for shifting home energy use to support grid needs.
The biggest barriers to participation in DR programs “are low awareness and lack of smart thermostat ownership,” independent consultant TRC said in a March report. When customers understand the programs and technology, their attitudes shift. Strategies for notifying customers of DR events and for helping them learn “to prepare for or respond to” events also need improvement, TRC said.
Finally, TRC found that 58% of customers in SCE’s DR programs would like to add smart water heaters, 56% want to add solar battery systems, and 52% are interested in EV chargers. It said SCE should “consider expanding” its DR program to include those technologies.
The “most important finding” is that a majority of customers support “expanding the program to include other types of smart technologies,” said V. John White, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies Executive Director.
Private sector residential DR aggregators made significant contributions during California’s August 2020 outages. State leader OhmConnect reduced total energy usage by almost one GWh from Aug. 13 to Aug. 20, 2020, CEO Cisco DeVries told Current. The independent market survey for SCE describes how the IOU’s current DR program can be expanded to match private sector performance… click here for more