CPS Energy Adopts Demand Response Technology to Stabilize the Grid

Honeywell has entered into a two-year program with CPS Energy to assist with their demand response program.
Published: Tue 01 Apr 2014

Utility CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, will be using automated demand response (ADR) technology and services from Honeywell to connect and collaborate with commercial and industrial customers.

Improving grid stability and sustainability

The technology, which will be used to adjust electricity consumption during peak demand usage, will give CPS Energy additional tools to improve the stability of the Texas electrical grid. This will be especially useful during hot summer days when air conditioners and other cooling equipment are operating at their maximum capacity.

The program, probably the largest automated demand response deployment by a municipal utility, will build on a successful pilot project that CPS Energy and Honeywell completed in 2013. The pilot included nine commercial and industrial facilities, and helped cut demand by approximately 1.5MW-this resulted in a 10%-plus reduction in each building on average. Honeywell and CPS Energy aims to enroll an additional 60 which should bring the potential reduction close to 6MW. This will be enough electricity to meet the typical load of over 2,200 homes.

According to Jeremy Eaton, vice president of Honeywell Smart Grid Solutions, shifting demand is “simple in theory, but making the right connections with the right energy loads and delivering repeatable results is critical to having the lasting impact utilities need.” The firm assists firms like CPS Energy to attain this balance by creating a more stable and sustainable grid.

Conserving energy

Extreme temperatures can put a significant amount of stress on the power lines and transformers. In response to this, utilities like CPS Energy had to fire up "peaking plants" in the past. These small reserve power plants were used to generate additional power only when consumer demand called for it.

Automated demand response, while serving a similar purpose, focuses on helping the utility and its customers to reduce their usage temporarily. This helps utilities avoid building costly power plants.

"Our commercial demand response program is a win for both sides," said David Jungman, CPS Energy's vice president of Corporate Development and Planning. "It helps us save energy for the electrical grid, but also helps local companies reduce their energy use and ultimately improve their bottom line. We think ADR is another valuable resource to conserve energy and ensure the reliability of the state grid."

Creating sustainability for the commercial customer

As part of the program, customers will be identified and enrolled, and their buildings will be audited to reveal curtailment opportunities. The utility and Honeywell will then work to customize and implement changes to reduce power consumption without hindering core business functions.

In return for joining, customers can expect to receive an incentive for each kilowatt they shed. The hardware and software installed will help each organization improve consumption habits, thereby creating a sustainable energy efficiency level.

Honeywell will also provide its Akuacom Demand Response Automation Server, software as a service (SaaS) that enables CPS Energy to send signals to building automation systems at sites enrolled in the program, triggering the short-term load-shedding measures the customer selects -- heating and cooling adjustments, and subtle changes in lighting, for example.

Honeywell also manages a residential demand response for CPS Energy. This was established 10 years ago and involves over 81,000 homeowners.

Together, the residential and commercial-industrial programs should allow the utility to generate the same amount of "negawatts" as several gas-fired peaking plants can produce megawatts.

Part of the energy plan

Demand response forms an integral part of CPS Energy's Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), a strategy to save 771 MW by the year 2020.

STEP initiatives, such as residential and commercial rebates, and demand response programs, focus on conserving energy that would have to be produced through new power plants.

In 2013, CPS Energy managed to save 130 MW during peak times through demand response programs.