In anticipation of another severe winter, utilities are preparing to run winter load management programs. In some cases, this is for the first time. On the surface, it may seem an easy task as asking customers to reduce the load in peak times has been a staple of utility demand side management (DSM) programs for years. However, this effort will require more than a copy and paste from the summer program counterpart. Different types of customers with varying types of loads will be participating. Winter load management programs may have two peak periods during the day instead of the one peak period in the summer. Summer programs are typically focused on cooling loads which are probably not appropriate for cold weather times. Here are a few considerations for program outreach and implementation.
The basic concept of incenting customers to reduce load when the utility requests it remains the same. To facilitate the program launch, consider the initial outreach efforts to the firms that market these programs to end-use customers. These companies have existing relationships with large users and quickly make customers aware of the new program opportunity. Additionally, residential programs can be offered through smart thermostat companies. Both approaches will allow the utility to rapidly scale program enrollments without direct outreach to customers. From the program design standpoint, utilities will need to determine how program costs and incentive payments will be handled. Do you run a one-month program in December and a three-month program for January, February, and March? From a simplicity standpoint, running it as a one-season program would make the best sense rather than splitting costs between program years. Internally, the utilities work processes will need to be modified from the summer programs as they align better with traditional office hours. Winter programs will require utility load management staff to monitor grid conditions early in the mornings and later in the evenings. This may require flexibility for managers and their staff. Fortunately, with the remote working arrangements that have been in place for the past two years, this task will be easier.
The last consideration is on tracking systems. As mentioned earlier, this is not a copy-and-paste approach. Some of the functions will be the same such as customer information and meter number. However, the definition of the peak period will be different. Customer usage for two different periods per day will need to be logged and tracked. Hopefully, the existing system is flexible enough to accommodate such a change rapidly. When attempting to launch a program quickly, the tracking systems must be up and running from day one. If you are using eTRACK+, you have such a system. If not, ANB Systems can help you meet your program objectives.
You can also read the following articles for more information:
1. Oncor’s Proposed Winter Load Management Program – New Pilot 24/7
2. ACEEE Guide for Utility Winter Load Management
3. Texas PUC Staff, TDUs File Settlement On Interim Winter C&I Load Management Programs
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.
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