Energy Northwest Launches Public Power-focused Demand Response Pilot Project

Energy NorthwestEnergy Northwest, the Bonneville Power Administration and regional public power partners activated the Northwest’s first-of-a-kind demand response pilot project earlier this year.  As of September 2015, the EN-led resource has reliably responded for BPA in nearly 60 events.

The Demand Response Pilot Project runs from February 2015 through January 2016 with the potential to be extended a second year, through January 2017. Under the agreement, Energy Northwest assembled the demand response resource from asset loads served by regional public utility partners and takes the role of the Pilot’s resource aggregator. In most areas of the country, the role of resource aggregator is provided by a for-profit entity.

“This regional demand response program is the first-of-its-kind program in the Northwest led by public power, for public power,” said Jim Gaston, Energy Services and Development General Manager.

Demand response provides load side management via a communication/control network that dispatches, or orders, participating heavy industrial, commercial and residential loads to turn its loads on or off in response to electrical grid conditions.

The Energy Northwest demand response resource offers 35 MW of reliable “fast reaction” demand response-capacity resource. Due to early success, the pilot project has the potential of growing past the current 35 MW. “BPA is interested in incorporating more demand response as an option for balancing generation and load,” explained John Wellschlager, Account Executive, Long term Sales for BPA. “While still early in the pilot, we’ve been extremely pleased with the crispness of Energy Northwest’s DR Pilot project’s aggregated response.”

BPA is evaluating the use of demand response for in-hour balancing reserves with the potential for Energy Northwest to supply such a resource.

Affiliate Logo for NewsEnergy Northwest Serves as Pilot Project Aggregator
A Hometown Connections Marketing Affiliate, Energy Northwest is a joint operating agency comprised of 27 member public power utilities, including 22 public utility districts and five municipalities. Energy Northwest is the only energy-focused joint operating agency in the Pacific Northwest; the owner of the region’s sole nuclear energy facility; a producer of more than 1,300 megawatts of clean electricity from projects owned and/or operated by the agency; and aggregator of a public-power-focused suite of innovative clean energy services and solutions.

As a joint operating agency, Energy Northwest partners with public utilities throughout the region to improve quality of life by providing consumers with affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity. Strategic services and projects like demand response are offered to support utilities seeking partners who understand public power, know the regional landscape and have demonstrated success with generation projects and energy services.

What is Demand Response?
Demand response provides load side management via a communication/control network that dispatches, or orders, participating heavy industrial, commercial and residential loads to turn its loads on or off in response to electrical grid conditions. Matching electricity generation to electricity load is a constantly moving target. Organizations responsible for performing this matching are known as ‘balancing authorities.’ As a balancing authority, BPA must dispatch generation − on or off − to meet this moving load.

Variable generation resources such as wind and solar have increased in the region over the past 10 years, challenging BPA to maintain adequate capacity reserves to balance its regional system. In the past, BPA provided balancing reserve capacity largely with its hydro system. However, growing demands on the hydro system have limited its flexibility to provide those reserves. BPA is thus exploring alternative, third-party-supplied capacity sources, one of which is demand response.

Demand Response in Action
BPA meets balancing obligations in real-time. When contingency conditions require BPA system operators to activate reserve system balancing resources – including demand response – BPA operations generates a signal calling on its demand response aggregator, Energy Northwest, for an event

Energy Northwest’s Demand Response Aggregated Control System (DRACS) picks up the signal, acknowledges its receipt, and forwards the signal to multiple demand response assets. Upon receipt of the forwarded signal, each asset begins automatically to reduce its loads. The load changes must be complete within 10 minutes and sustained through the event, up to 90 minutes in duration.

During events, DRACS collects detailed metering information from each of the Assets and reports, in real time, total capacity response to BPA. Once an event ends, DRACS sends terminating signals to the Assets who can then resume normal operations.

Pilot Project Successful in Early Tests
BPA called the pilot project’s first real event, or activation of the demand response system, at 10:05 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10. By 10:09 a.m. – minute four of the 10-minute response time allowed under the agreement – all three contracted assets had responded with a total capacity of 32 megawatts. The actual event started at 10:15 a.m. and proceeded to 11:45 a.m. when it timed out at 90 minutes, the maximum event duration.

“From receipt of the event notification through termination by the DRACS, each of our demand response assets performed beyond all expectations,” said John Steigers, Energy Northwest Generation Project Developer. “We, and the BPA project team, are very pleased with the system response.”

Benefits to the Region
Over the long run, demand side resources have the potential to defer or displace the need for new generation in the region and make the best use of existing generation − resulting in overall cost savings to the region.

With early success under its belt, the pilot project also has the potential of growing past the current 35 MW. “BPA is interested in incorporating more demand response as an option for balancing generation and load,” explained Wellschlager. “While still early in the pilot, we’ve been extremely pleased with the crispness of Energy Northwest’s DR Pilot project’s aggregated response.”

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