This summer, heat waves from Baltimore to Honolulu drove electricity demand upward. In fact, Los Angeles shattered its record for peak electric demand not once, but twice.
Yet, on the hottest day and at the time of heaviest electricity use, Southern Californians saved energy and money, without changing electricity rates or deploying new devices. And not by an insignificant amount: demand dropped by more than 5% in the late afternoon.
But how could Californians possibly save energy at a time when energy-intensive air conditioners were supposed to be running on high, causing demand to spike?
It was possible through and because of Behavioral Demand Response.
Across the country, Behavioral Demand Response (BDR) — which uses high-resolution AMI data, rapid-fire analytics, behavioral science, and personalized communications to drive measurable peak reduction without a price signal or device in the home — helped utilities engage their customers to save energy and money during peak events this summer.
Powered by our technology platform, BDR was deployed to more than 1 million homes across multiple utilities and Independent System Operators (ISOs), including the PJM Interconnection, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), ISO New England, Glendale Water & Power, and Efficiency Vermont in partnership with Green Mountain Power.
And the results were astounding: over the course of 10 events, BDR delivered consistent, cost-effective savings of up to 5 percent. And, even better, the savings and engagement brought about by BDR has received rave reviews from utility customers, with the overwhelming majority satisfied with the program.
This is the ideal win-win scenario for utilities — and it’s just the beginning.
Last year, U.S. utilities spent a whopping $580 million on residential demand response programs. Why? Because each kilowatt of demand avoided during peak hours is worth about $94 annually.
Behavioral Demand Response is helping avoid this energy use, and saving utilities and their customers money. In fact, if deployed nationwide, BDR could deliver up to 4,700 megawatts in peak load reduction, or 113% of the total capacity available today from existing residential demand response programs. That’s the equivalent of building 94 new peaking power plants.
States like Texas — which face challenges in ensuring sufficient generation capacity and meeting the EPA's new emissions targets — stand to benefit tremendously from BDR. In fact, if the Lone Star State deployed BDR during peak events, it could reduce peak demand by almost 1,000 megawatts annually. That means significantly less emissions and less strain on the state's grid.