Smart Grid Establishes a Foothold in Homes
Households are installing “smart” electronics to monitor, control, and analyze their energy usage. We’re testing how this trend can help our utility’s demand-response programs.
Smart Technologies Help Consumers Save & Boost Grid Reliability
"Residential energy-management technologies, paired with utility-level financial incentives offered by demand-response programs like Save Power Days, can help reduce load on the grid during peak demand periods."
An ongoing study by our utility involves approximately 2,800 residential customers with smart thermostats, and features third-party validation.
Each year, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 households install “smart” thermostats and energy-management systems in the area served by our regulated utility, Southern California Edison (SCE). For many families, installing a programmable, communicating thermostat not only helps control expenses, but also provides the added benefit of an enriched sense of safety and security at home.
For electric utilities, the trend offers an opportunity to boost customer participation in demand-response programs like SCE’s Save Power Days.
Greater Consumer Incentives Help Boost Overall Energy Savings
Households with "smart" thermostats and other qualifying enabling technologies – including those by Alarm.com, EnergyHub, and Nest Labs -- are offered an additional $0.50 in bill credits for each kilowatt hour of electricity saved during Save Power Days events. This is in addition to the $0.75 that all Save Power Days participants already earn per kilowatt hour saved.
The utility can call a Save Power Days event on any weekday afternoon when electricity demand is relatively high. Events run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Energy savings is identified based on the customer’s own average weekday usage.
Results: Consumer Energy Savings Rise to 3 kWh Per Event
The study resulted in more than 20 MWh of energy reduction over the course of five events during Summer 2013, according to third party validation. On a per-household basis, savings were about 3.0 kilowatt hours per event, or about 0.75 kilowatts per hour over the course of a four-hour event.
In terms of bill savings, the reduction in energy usage translates into bill credits of about $45 to $50 per household, over the course of a typical demand-response season.
Results of the study can inform the design and development of future programs for Southern California Edison customers.
"This is a win-win for customers and utilities. Customers can better control their costs and often they feel better about what’s going on in their own home. It makes sense for us to be a part of this."
-- Mauro Dresti, senior manager for mass market solutions, Southern California Edison
Standardized Communications Platform is Vital to Success
The study also highlighted the importance of a standard platform for event notification. Referred to as Open Automated Demand Response, the standard platform enables SCE to communicate directly with third parties offering their own programs, in addition to customers devices participating in SCE's ddirect load control programs.
This communication will allow the devices of customers opting into a program to affect energy usage – according to the consumer’s own preferences and settings – by adjusting lighting systems, pool pumps, and heating and air-conditioning systems – during an event. The customer’s smart meter measures the energy savings during an event, and the cycle is completed when the meter provides SCE with accurate data to credit the customers’ account.