Getting to Energy Efficiency with Two Little Magic Words (Demand Response)

Here’s how to be super cool in Silicon Valley: Mutter the words “demand response” or, better yet, the acronym “DR.” Wait for somebody to start talking about Energy Efficiency (somebody will) and then say “demand side management” or its acronym, “DSM.”

The more the cost of electricity rises, the more the electricity-devouring Silicon Valley high tech companies become energy conscious. Google recently got permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility just so it can exercise more control over its energy mix, add more New Energy to its supply and implement better control of its Energy Efficiency (EE).

The Silicon Valley IT giants long ago took the standard EE steps like improving their insulation, windows and doors. Now what they are studying is how they can more effectively reduce their demand during periods like hot summer afternoons when the price of electricity peaks because everybody in California is running their air conditioners. This is called demand response (DR).

The chip wizards are also competing to invent the best demand side management (DSM) technologies for utilities so that they can interact with customers electricity consumption, via a smart grid, to prevent brownouts or blackouts when sudden fluctuations in supply or demand threatens the utilities’ capability to keep the lights on.

Coordination of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response; A Resource of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, from researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is an examination of how EE and DR fit together. ::continue::

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It was written in support of the 10 implementation goals of the 2008 National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Vision for 2025, an agreement between 50 major electric and gas utilities, state utility commissioners, state air and energy agencies, energy service providers, energy consumers, and energy efficiency and consumer advocates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goals:

(1) Establishing Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency as a High-Priority Resource


(2) Developing Processes to Align Utility and Other Program Administrator Incentives Such That Efficiency and Supply Resources Are on a Level Playing Field

(3) Establishing Cost-Effectiveness Tests

(4) Establishing Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification Mechanisms

(5) Establishing Effective Energy Efficiency Delivery Mechanisms

(6) Developing State Policies to Ensure Robust Energy Efficiency Practices

(7) Aligning Customer Pricing and Incentives to Encourage Investment in Energy Efficiency

(8) Establishing State of the Art Billing Systems

(9) Implementing State of the Art Efficiency Information Sharing and Delivery Systems

(10) Implementing Advanced Technologies

The LBNL paper (1) summarizes the research on the relationship between energy efficiency and demand response, (2) presents new information from program administrators, customers, and service providers, on current practices and opportunities in the coordination of energy efficiency and demand response, and (3) discusses the barriers to coordinating energy efficiency and demand response programs.

The goals of the Silicon Valley circuit and system builders are simple: (1) Make gads of money and (2) save the world. EE is the easiest cheapest way to begin doing both those things. The LBNL paper demonstrates that DR is a valuable means toward achieving EE, which makes DR pretty cool.

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This post is based on Coordination of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response; A Resource of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency by Charles Goldman, Michael Reid, Roger Levy and Alison Silverstein (January 2010, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

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