Navigant Research Blog

Automated Demand Response Takes Spotlight at DistribuTECH

— January 3, 2014

With the unveiling of LEED 4.0 in late 2013, the Pilot Credit, which has existed for a couple of years, became a full LEED credit.  That means participants can get three LEED points for enrolling in an existing demand response (DR) program using automated demand response (ADR), one point if there is not a program currently available but ADR capabilities exist in the building, and two points if the facility can shift load to off-peak periods.  This increased point potential may encourage more buildings that are going for LEED accreditation to include ADR in their design.

LEED 4.0 will be high on the agenda at DistribuTECH, the annual gathering of the power sector’s transmission and distribution vendors and customers.  The conference session on DR in the LEED Commercial Buildings track at this year’s DistribuTECH will cover the results of the Pilot Credit program and look ahead to what 2014 holds for the latest version of LEED.

DistribuTECH is well-timed, not only because it gets me out of Boston in January and in San Antonio.  Although I’ve worked for several vendors and utilities in the past that participate in DistribuTECH, I’ve not had the opportunity to attend in person.   I’m also currently working on an upcoming report on ADR, so it will be a good chance for me to talk face-to-face with the leaders in the field so they can tell me how accurate or inaccurate my forecasts are.


In addition to LEED, there are a number of other ADR-related aspects of this year’s DistribuTECH.

The session on Demand Response Optimization from a utility perspective will examine ways to leverage DR resources for different value streams and operational purposes.  NV Energy will describe its experience with Alstom’s demand response management system (DRMS), which allows NV to interface with OpenADR or directly with programmable thermostats.  Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OGE), which uses AutoGrid’s DRMS to send signals to thermostats via the Zigbee-based Smart Energy Profile over OGE’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) network, is also on the panel.  The next generation of utility DR programs will be “bring your own device” (BYOD), where consumers choose the thermostats they desire at the store and initiate the enrollment process instead of having a technology preselected for them by the utility.

OpenADR falls under the microscope in San Antonio as well, as a number of system operators discuss the progress and results of their use of the standard.  Hawaiian Electric has been running a pilot program to enroll commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to respond within 10 minutes of receiving a signal of an imbalance between supply and demand in order to address a state mandate to incorporate 40% renewable energy in the grid by 2030.  OpenADR unveiled its 2.0 profile specifications in 2013, vastly expanding the applications that can be covered.  International interest in OpenADR has grown quickly, with 20% of member companies now coming from Asia Pacific, including 15 out of the 110 total members in Japan.

The list of exhibitors at DistribuTECH includes players on all sides of the ADR space.  On the C&I side, there are familiar names like Schneider, Siemens, and EnerNOC, as well as relative newcomers like REGEN Energy.  For residential DR, Comverge and ThinkEco represent the implementation and technology field.  Also represented are the companies that work to enable the utilities/grid operators to run DR programs with tools like DRMS, such as Aclara, Alstom, AutoGrid, GE, Lockheed Martin, and OATI.  Finally, groups like the OpenADR Alliance and Zigbee Alliance are working to create standards for DR signals to encourage open communication structures and interoperability of devices.


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