Southern California Edison has introduced a pilot demand response programme that involves an Energy Orb – a softball-sized device that changes colour depending on the level of demand, after a radio signal from Edison. If demand is low, the Orb’s light-emitting diodes shine green or blue. As demand grows the Orb turns orange, and at times of maximum use it glows a fiery red.
The pilot project involved small businesses, and the idea was to have a visible reminder of the need to conserve power – both for business owners and their customers. The utility reports that customers with the Orb were twice as likely to curtail energy use as those who did not have the device, and says the positive results have encouraged it to expand the trial.
SCE already offers small commercial customers an incentive to turn up their AC thermostats via its $mart Thermostat™ programme – these customers are given the sum of $100, and lose $10 each time they override a command sent out by the utility to adjust the setting on their AC equipment. The Energy Orb is a further, dramatically visible reminder of the need to conserve power.