Contact: Allan Chen (510) 486-4210, [email protected]
Technical Contacts: Mary Ann Piette, (510) 486-6286, [email protected]
Rish Ghatikar, (510) 486-6786, [email protected]
Sila Kiliccote, (510) 495-2615,  [email protected]

Smart grid software and hardware technology developed by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) helped Northern California power utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company and several of its commercial and industrial customers demonstrate that they can reduce power usage automatically and quickly—in less than 10 minutes—in support of grid reliability. This approach is sometimes called Fast-DR (fast demand response).

The demonstration is the first of its kind in the U.S. to use automated demand response technology to implement Fast-DR.  The technology was tested in late July, and tests are continuing.

Playing a critical role in the demonstration were automated demand response technologies and the OpenADR (open automated demand response) specification developed by Berkeley Lab.

OpenADR has been implemented in its service territory of Northern California by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and private-sector partners Akuacom, in cooperation with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). Other vendors Itron, Metrum, and Bow Networks also played roles in developing the technology.  In May 2009 OpenADR was also included in the first 16 National Institute of Standards and Technology standards announced for the Smart Grid.

The important innovation in this pilot is that the OpenADR open communications systems that have been used for price response were also readily capable of providing fast demand response.  The buildings are pre-programmed to modify electric use in response to the automation signals and the communication system allows the electric loads to change quickly.

Three facilities, a bakery, a local government office building, and a large retail store—Svenhards, Contra Costa County, and Ikea—are enrolled in the Participating Load Pilot.

“California is leading the development and implementation of the smart grid in the U.S. thanks to the partnership of Berkeley Lab, CAISO, PG&E, private sector technology companies like Akuacom, and the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program,” says Mary Ann Piette the Research Director of the Demand Response Research Center.

“This pilot exemplifies how demand side management mixed with automation technology can become an even more valuable resource for our customers,” said Andrew Tang, senior director of smart energy web at PG&E. “In addition to helping increase system reliability, demand response can now help our customers earn greater financial rewards than before.”

Says John Goodin, the Lead for Demand Response Regulatory & Policy Development at the California Independent System Operator: “This demonstration project, and its use of technology that can reduce power consumption automatically, will help the California ISO and the utilities develop more effective demand response to the benefit of consumers and the power grid. The California ISO also expects automated demand response will help offset the fluctuations of increasing amounts of intermittent renewable resources, such as solar and wind, that will be deployed on the grid.”

The successful demonstration is a step forward toward the smart grid because it gives the electric grid the ability to reduce the demand for power quickly and automatically when required. Fast-DR is fast becoming an additional tool in the grid controllers’ toolbox, joining “spinning reserve.”

Spinning reserve resources consist of power plants kept “spinning” to generate power on short notice. They can supply power to the grid within 10 minutes if needed.

In contrast, Fast-DR takes the approach of reducing the demand in buildings for electrical power from the grid by activating a series of pre-planned reductions in non-essential power consumption instead of supplying additional electric power. Fast-DR is, in effect, nega-Watts of “non-spinning reserve.” Hourly blocks of reduced power demand is a resource traded in an open wholesale market overseen by the CAISO called “ancillary services.” In this market, utilities can trade reduced power use at certain hours on certain days in the near future to help even out the demand for power in the state.

For each facility, hourly demand for power, and demand savings, are forecast two days ahead and submitted to the CAISO the day before the operation. The demand savings is an available resource that is traded in the ancillary services market. These savings from demand response resources are optimized against all other generation resources in the ancillary services market.

Each facility in the pilot is equipped with four-second real-time telemetry equipment to ensure resource accountability. When the CAISO requests DR resources, PG&E’s OpenADR communications infrastructure delivers DR signals to the energy management and control systems of the participating facilities. The pre-programmed DR strategies are triggered without a human in the loop.

The figure shows a typical result of a reduction in power use in a facility. The actual power use is in red, the forecast in yellow, the bids for power savings in the wholesale market in green, and the actual reduction in power use in black. The time interval is 3 pm to 4 pm.

The figure shows a typical result of a reduction in power use in a facility. The actual power use is in red, the forecast in yellow, the bids for power savings in the wholesale market in green, and the actual reduction in power use in black. The time interval is 3 pm to 4 pm.

Crucial to demonstrating this approach is a technology that allows electricity customers to decide in advance which power-using can be modified during a grid event. The automated demand response technologies and the OpenADR specification allow the customers’ buildings to receive signals over the Internet from PG&E and automatically reduce power consumption without the building operators losing control over their facility.

Akuacom, a San Rafael, California, software company developed PG&E’s OpenADR communications infrastructure. The demand response automation server at the core of the infrastructure is based on a close partnership between Berkeley Lab and Akuacom. “Akuacom strongly supports the standards initiative of the OpenADR protocol,” says Ed Koch, its Chief Technology Officer.

The OpenADR standard is one which is being further developed for adoption nationally by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance smart grid development throughout the U.S. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing a smart grid standards roadmap incorporating OpenADR.

Automated Demand Response and OpenADR have been pioneered by research at Berkeley Lab’s Demand Response Research Center, and its Environmental Energy Technologies Division, and funded by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

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