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Australian demand response trial delivers 30% peak load reduction

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One Step Off The Grid

A residential electricity demand response trial conducted by Australian utility United Energy has resulted in a more than 30 per cent load reduction for peak events occurring during the 2016 summer season in Australia, the network operator said.

The trial – which targeted peak usage from 4pm-7pm over four events during the 2015/16 summer season – was conducted via an a energy management program and app developed by California-based start-up Bidgley.

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Bidgley’s Action DR program, delivered to the customer via an app called HomeBeat, used historic energy use data to provide each participating household with a personal energy use goal for the peak event period, providing real-time updates on how well they are meeting it.

Customers also receive targeted energy saving tips, as well as performance-based rewards for changes in energy consumption behaviour.

In United Energy’s case, the customers invited to participate in the voluntary Summer Saver Trial were asked to reduce their power usage for a period of up to three hours per event.

‘Event days’ were on weekdays only, and participants were given at least two days notice of an upcoming event day.

In return, customers had the opportunity to be rewarded with $25 for each ‘event day’ – as much as $100 over the season – where they reduceed their energy consumption in comparison to a similar day in their history.

United Energy said on Tuesday that the trial had successfully averaged more than 30 per cent load reduction over the four peak events, while also improving customer engagement and satisfaction.

In a joint press release with Bidgley, UE said it chose the US company’s residential demand-response solution for its ability to engage customers, and for being scalable and cost effective to implement.

Bidgely CEO Abhay Gupta says his company’s solution is “disaggregation technology at its core.”

“ActionDR gives utilities the ability to achieve high peak shift results without the capital cost of installing a load control switch,” Gupta said.

“This not only reduces the cost of residential demand response by over five times, but also allows scalable deployment, thus enabling utilities to greatly extend their demand response program reach compared to traditional methods.”

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy sister site One Step Off The Grid. To sign up for the weekly newsletter click here.  

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  • George Michaelson

    The $25 per reduction goal isn’t sustainable permanently. So, either the actual longterm proffer is smaller, or people go back to burning electricity. its cute, but it scaled to the experiment, not the customer database as a whole. I would have been interested what the highest goal achieved was, for the lowest offered reward. That tells us how low people will go.

    “I’ll rebate you 40c right now, if you turn off the aircon” is a test. “I’ll give you $25” is not.

    • CaresAboutHealth

      On 15 Jan 2015 at 7 pm in QLD, the power companies paid $5,076 per MWh, or over $5 per kWh for electricity that the companies would have sold to consumers for perhaps 20 cents per kWh. At 5 pm on Jan 18 2015, they paid $6,626/MWh. I suspect that paying $25 to 5% of consumers to halve their electricity consumption would have a significant impact on the price, perhaps lowering it to under $2,000 per MWh, saving the power companies a lot more money than the inducements paid to customers.
      But you are right – it would be interesting to know the minimum payment required to persuade people to reduce their consumption on the few days a year when demand exceed supply and the price of electricity exceeds $1,000 per MWh.

      • hydrophilia

        I’d love to see the cost/benefit numbers to see if it might, indeed, pencil out or if it is unsustainable.

    • Cooma Doug

      This is not the way it will be in time. There will be no disruption, just disruption free load side management . When the battery is available the options are enormous and all day flat grid super efficient loading.

      25 years ago when nerds were working out an electricity market in Australia, they talked about things like this for a long time.
      The first market design actually included price regulation and adjustments taking into account the pollution output ratings of the generators bidding energy into the market. This well before a carbon tax was ever mentioned. Unfortunately it was not implemented.

      The ancilliary service market was created by the designers. They created products and money flow for things forever taken for granted prior to the market. Spinning reserve, graduated frequency control, provision of voltage control and system stability management.

      All of these products can be shifted onto the other side of the meter, delivered silently and in a manner so that the loadside user will notice nothing and experiance zero disruption.

      With the increase in solar and battery installation, the billions tied up in ancilliary service infrastructure on the grid will reduce rapidly.