Automated Demand Response Demonstrates Benefits In California

A new Automated Demand Response platform demonstrates savings but system costs need reducing.
Published: Tue 30 Sep 2014

Experience with the development of a new  Automated Demand Response  (ADR) hardware/software platform  has  revealed that reducing the system costs are a top priority for future ADR development.

The project was undertaken by Honeywell, with the support of a Smart Grid Investment Grant, and working with California’s three investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE) – to demonstrate the platform.

Most of the benefits of the project were realized by the three utilities and the participating customers. However, without the funding to make up the difference between Honeywell’s costs and the incentive payments from the utilities, they would not have been able to participate.

ADR platform

Honeywell’s ADR system is powered by a Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS), and involves commercially available technologies customized for customers to implement load control strategies in response to notification or price signals from their utility.

The system is designed to interface with and augment the customer’s energy management systems (EMS). ADR components include hardware and software for obtaining price signals and notifications from utilities through an ADR gateway. They also include systems for monitoring and controlling building and factory loads such as lighting, heating, cooling, air handling, motors, and refrigeration.

Industrial and commercial customers targeted

The project targeted large industrial and commercial customers with greater than 200kW of connected load. Sixty-one customers involving 282 sites and 49.8MW of curtailable load were recruited through the three utilities.

The ideal customers were found to fall into two categories: customers whose operations make it possible for them to curtail demand without affecting performance; and customers whose systems are easy to automate for demand response. Among the most ideal are water districts, which can change water pumping schedules and curtail demand without significant disruptions in services.

ADR process

The ADR process is initiated by the utility sending out notification signals for upcoming critical peak events. This signal is received and processed by the DRAS, which then signals a controller located on the customer’s premise connected to the onsite EMS. The system uses open industry protocol OpenADR, to pass messages between the DRAS, controller and EMS.

Once a signal is received, the EMS uses a priority list of pre-selected curtailments that were identified by the participants in accordance with their own needs. Typical curtailments include non-essential lighting and elevator banks, and certain equipment such as pumps, motors, compressors, and refrigeration systems.

Honeywell found that many customers did not have an EMS or an EMS with connected loads. In these instances, the EMS software was customized to enable more flexible and effective responses to load management signals from the utilities. For example, for Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), a participating customer with 155 buildings, an air handler control feature was added that can be adjusted by JPL to achieve 10% to 50% curtailment during demand response events.

Energy savings with ADR

Savings with ADR were found to be substantial. For example, the food distributor Coastal Pacific Foods Distributors (CPFD) was able to reduce its monthly energy bills from US$50,000 to US$35,000 and cut its electricity usage by more than 25%. During events, CPFD can curtail demand by more than 110kW.

Honeywell’s facility in Torrance, California, also participated in the program, and received more than US$75,000 in bill credits for its participation in 11 demand response events in 2012 and 2013.

The system also proved effective in reducing peak demand.

Reducing ADR costs

Future development of the platform is focused primarily on reducing the system and implementation costs.

Going forward, Honeywell plans to focus marketing efforts on the most attractive customers for ADR systems, including water pumping facilities, big box retailers and large manufacturing plants. The company also plans to find new ways to lower hardware and software costs. As part of the SGIG project, Honeywell was able to reduce the cost of the ADR gateway by 50%, and believes savings also can be achieved for other system components.

Honeywell would also like to expand capabilities to make the system attractive to a broader array of customers. For example, based on the project experience the potential to develop real-time feedback for performance monitoring was recognized, leading to the development of the new OpenADR 2.0b protocol.

Further reading

US Department of Energy: Automated Demand Response Benefits California Utilities and Commercial & Industrial Customers