• Demand Response
  • Demand-Side Manamement
  • Bring Your Own Thermostat
  • DER
  • Smart Devices

BYOD as the Future of Year-Round Demand-Side Management

Jessie Mehrhoff
Nov 27, 2018

Connectivity 6

As the leaves changed color and began to fall in the northern hemisphere, utilities and retail energy suppliers prepared for what the winter months might mean for grid reliability. Demand response (DR) events are commonly held during the summer months to reward customers for reducing energy consumption at periods of high demand. In the winter, however, many summer savings programs go dormant (though in recent years natural gas DR has become increasingly prevalent in parts of New England and Southern California). Navigant Research’s recent report on the evolution of bring your own device (BYOD) programs indicates that implementing demand-side management (DSM) might benefit both grid reliability and customer satisfaction year-round.

Growing Applications of Bring Your Own Device

Evolving from the more common utility bring your own thermostat (BYOT) model, BYOD might constitute the next generation of DSM programs, although it will likely serve as only one component of broader DR portfolios. Three strengths of BYOD programs include:

  • BYOD diversifies the mix of behind-the-meter assets available to be called upon in DR events. New business models are engaging systems integrators to include a variety of devices including grid-interactive thermostats, battery storage, water heaters, and EVs as tools to be called upon during an event. For example, Green Mountain Power uses customer-owned batteries during cold winter nights to avoid purchasing expensive surplus power.
  • BYOD programs might be a lower cost solution for meeting energy efficiency, DR, and other portfolio standard goals. Whereas direct or self-install programs have historically required utilities to pay high installation costs or marketing expenses, BYOD can eliminate many of these fees, leaving enrollment rebates to constitute a large portion of program costs.
  • Customer satisfaction could increase as BYOD programs meet customers where they are. Customers like to maximize benefits from their energy portfolio all year long. By allowing individuals to choose distributed energy resources (DER) that fit their home or business’ needs, and engage them in year-round cost-savings programs, customers can feel more confident in their energy management decisions; high satisfaction can boost a provider’s J.D. Power ratings.

BYOD programs bring many strengths to DR as they continue to grow across North America and enter markets worldwide. While North America is expected to host the majority of BYOD programs in the coming decade, BYOD could offer year-round savings to utilities and other suppliers in all areas with high heat or seasonal temperature variability.

BYOD Devices by Region, World Markets: 2018-2027

BYOD Devices By Region: 2018-2027

(Source: Navigant Research)

BYOD Development Goes Well Beyond Seasonal Implementation

While BYOD programs may reduce load in some cities this winter, utilities, retail energy suppliers, and energy service companies should follow the evolution of three critical facets of this form of DSM regardless of season. First, the number and types of devices eligible for BYOD are continually expanding. The days of smart thermostats as the sole device communicating with the electric power grid are behind us. Second, BYOD programs are extending from DR to energy efficiency programs. Nest’s Seasonal Savings program is one example of a BYOD energy efficiency program that secures savings during the winter months. Finally, the BYOD model is expanding to include retail choice electricity suppliers and energy service providers; utilities are not always a required party for this type of DR.

As the global electric power industry shifts toward a mix of clean DER, BYOD programs allow customers to take advantage of a diverse range of smart technologies. This is all while utilities and energy suppliers secure increasingly reliable load reduction assets.