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Tying a Bow on 2018 for Demand Response

Brett Feldman
Jan 04, 2019

Overhead Power Lines 1

As 2018 winds to an end, it seems like a good time to review some of the happenings in the last couple of months in demand response (DR) world. These range from events to reports to company announcements.

Event to End 2018

I attended the Peak Load Management Alliance conference in November in Austin, Texas, somewhere I’ve been wanting to cross off my bucket list; it didn’t disappoint. The opening session was aptly titled "Reinventing Demand Response with Distributed Energy Resources (DER)," and it set the stage for much of the event. It is getting harder and less realistic to keep DR in its own silo as things like solar, energy storage, and EVs grow and can either be seen as a threat to traditional DR or a partner in managing the grid and offering customers solutions for their energy and comfort needs. I moderated a panel on natural gas demand response, showing another frontier for DR moving into new fuel sources aside from electricity.

Report Before 2019

Also in November, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its biannual Demand Response and Advanced Metering report. The report notes that “Given changes in the structure of DR programs in some Regional Transmission Organizations/Independent System Operators over the past several years, as well as changes in the way that DR participation is reported in some regions, Commission staff has updated the methodology used in this section of the report.” A drop in PJM DR between 2016 and 2017 is “likely due to the continued phasing out of legacy DR products as PJM shifts to an annual capacity performance product” for all resource types. As far as actual DR deployments in 2018, “High temperatures during the summer of 2018 led grid operators and utilities in several regions to issue notices for emergency demand response, critical peak pricing, and voluntary conservation. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) activated emergency DR on the evening of January 17, 2018—for only the second time since 2007—in response to unusually cold conditions in MISO South.”

End of Year Announcements 

On the DR company news side, CPower announced that it is being acquired by LS Power, making it the latest independent DR provider to come off the market. I will have more details on this deal after it closes.

Elsewhere, Voltus announced that it had begun to recruit and enroll customers in a virtual power plant in New Orleans. The idea is to sign up commercial and industrial customers in the city and bid them into the MISO market. This is the latest stop in Voltus’ tour around MISO states to try to crack open that market that has been closed to aggregators.

Finally, the pioneering DR EnerNOC brand disappeared as it became a part of Enel X. The goal is to role the DR capabilities within Enel’s larger suite of energy solutions including energy storage and advisory services.

We’ll see if 2019 brings more changes to the DR landscape or if things settle down as the industry matures.