Behavioral versus Pricing versus Automated Demand Response (DR): What’s Best When?

by Linda Barney

Smarter energy consumption, and being able to control energy used during peak energy demand times are topics of great interest to grid operators and the consumers they serve. But what is the best way to meet this goal and achieve effective and reliable energy demand reduction? Among the leading paths there are three strategies for meeting this goal via pricing structures, seeking consumer behavioral demand response (BDR) modifications or through automated demand response / automated energy management systems.

Elaine Markham

Behavioral programs offer consumers time-of-use/peak time rebates for actions such as turning off dishwashers during peak energy loads. The energy pricing structure includes changing the way that energy bills are paid by adjusting the price for energy, most often by changing the price at certain times (i.e. higher prices at times of higher demand). Automated demand response systems, such as smart thermostats, can provide consumers with energy usage information that also includes messaging and notifications along with tips on how to reduce consumption. Some automated demand response management systems can control the energy load shape by shutting off HVAC or dropping to a consistent load over course of a peak window to achieve a pre-set desired energy load.

The Behavioral vs. Pricing vs. Automated DR: What’s Best When? Session, of the Northwest Demand Response + Energy Storage Summit, will focus on exploring case studies of pricing, behavior and automated DR programs, as well as programs that blend aspects of the three. According to Elaine Markham, Senior Market Analyst, Puget Sound Energy and session moderator, “The panelists will share different perspectives for the audience.

“Jim Stewart, Principal Economist at Cadmus, will delve into his evaluation of Portland General Electric’s twelve pricing and behavioral pilot programs. Leesa Lee, VP Marketing at Bidgely, will talk about her experiences with behavioral DR in Australia using Bidgely’s energy disaggregation technology. Jamie Staples, Head of Retail Energy Partnerships at Nest, will discuss their Rush Hour Rewards and Rapid Rewards programs, as well as some new functionality that allows the utility to have more control over the delivered load shape from Nest thermostats.”

Some of the questions the panel hopes to answer are:

    – When is using technology to drive load reduction appropriate? When can technology be complementary to behavior change, and when might it be a barrier to program adoption?

    – How do all three strategies approach customer engagement?  How does the customer experience differ?

    – Will the growth of connected homes and/or smart thermostats reduce the potential for behavioral demand response?

    – How much do incentives drive program performance?  Do behavioral programs with no financial incentives (only normative messaging) result in reliable and consistent load reductions?

Join Smart Grid NW and nearly 300 others leading the way on demand side, energy storage and other flexible energy resources in the region to learn more about this topic and many others at the NW Demand Response & Energy Storage Summit, Sept 27 & 28 in Portland.