Demand response savings in U.S. only a fraction of available resource


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 20, 2009 – While much has been done to promote energy efficiency and demand response/load management programs, savings to date are only a small fraction of what is possible from this resource, according to the U.S. Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) in a new report for the Department of Energy (DOE) on the nation’s electric power delivery system infrastructure.

The report, “Keeping the lights on in a new world,” cites the example of a review of 21 different national, regional, and state-level studies from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which found that the median achievable efficiency potential in these studies was 18 percent energy savings over about a 13-year period. The average achievable potential per year of program implementation from these studies was about 1.5 percent energy savings, in line with the most aggressive programs utilities are now implementing and much greater than the approximately 0.2 percent per year of savings utilities are achieving on average nationwide.

Similarly, other ACEEE studies have found that demand response/load management programs can reduce peak demand by 7 to 22 percent, depending on geographic area and key assumptions.

The report says that a national policy that promotes sustainable and economically viable energy efficiency and demand response/load management programs will be necessary to achieve the full potential of these resources. Policy should guide these programs to maximize cost effective energy savings, reduce the environmental impact of electric delivery infrastructure utilization (including end-use infrastructure), reduce energy use during peak periods, coordinate with smart grid initiatives, and enhance the overall reliability of the electric grid.

Against this background the DOE is recommended to place priority on expanding existing programs that capture energy efficiency savings (e.g. updating federal appliance/equipment standards and national model building codes) and that help develop new energy saving technologies and practices that can be used in future decades (e.g. research and development initiatives).

The DOE should develop national measurement and verification protocols/standards that will better measure the savings that are being achieved. Also policies should be promoted at the federal and state levels that can encourage expanded cost effective energy efficiency and demand response/load management efforts, including expanding federal technical assistance to states and utilities, allowing demand resources to participate in independent system operator forward capacity markets, expanding regional coordination on demand side resources, and developing energy savings targets for utilities and/or state agencies.

The DOE also should research, develop, and support promising new energy efficiency policies and tools including energy efficient mortgages, on-bill financing for energy saving retrofits, energy performance ratings and disclosure for existing buildings, and the use of energy feedback devices to help consumers better manage their use.