47th PLMA Conference

47th PLMA Conference: Full Session Descriptions

Monday, May 8, 2023

Commercial & Industrial Load Flexibility Interest Group

C&I Demand Response Trends + Market Potential Review
Join the Co-Chairs of the C&I Load Flexibility Interest Group as we review recent trends in Demand Response from both vendor and utility perspectives.  Following this report-out, Debyani Ghosh with Guidehouse will be presenting key takeaways from a recent market potential study carried out in partnership with Arizona Public Service.

Customer Engagement Interest Group

Email Marketing by the Numbers
Whether for customer acquisition or customer retention, a lot goes into an effective email campaign. From opens to click-throughs, from timing to pacing of emails, and from in-house to vendor production, a successful campaign demands careful calibration, measurement, and adjustments. Join our expert panel for an interactive conversation on email campaign successes and lessons learned.

Global Load Management Interest Group

Part 1: The DER Communication Protocols Series
Join us to learn about DER protocols and specifically the differentiating factors that are vital to the selection processes used by both utilities and government entities. We’ll delve into logical communications versus device-oriented protocols, command-based instructions versus economic signals, and we'll discuss maintenance of each protocol, as well as the bodies who manage the change process.

Learn whether a given protocol should be used for logical communications where technical details are flexible, or if it’s a lower-level, device-oriented protocol. We'll discuss questions like, is a protocol focused on command-based instructions or is it more concerned with economic signals? Who maintains each protocol and which national and/or international bodies manage the change process? Come with your ideas about which protocols we should examine together in the coming months and the types of questions you would like to see answered to help with your decision-making processes.

Electric Transportation Interest Group

Electrifying School Buses – Challenges, Opportunities, and Bright Horizons
This session will tackle the intricacies and nuances of electrifying school buses and the impact of school bus electrification on the grid both from the load growth and load flexibility perspective. The panelists will touch upon the technology, adoption challenges, opportunities, and accelerators, and grid implications. The session will consist of both structured as well as interactive discussions to ensure sharing of insights from both the panelists and the audience.

Retail Pricing Interest Group

Crypto, Cannabis, and Data Centers: Retail Pricing Strategies for Emerging C&I Loads
Cryptocurrency mining and commercial cannabis production are adding substantial new demand to areas that may not be adequately prepared for the associated load growth. Is retail pricing an ideal solution to manage the massive demand from these emerging, energy intensive sectors? Come to this ‘ask the experts’ session to hear from industry leaders in pricing and demand management to talk about how our industry can best utilize pricing signals to effectively manage these increasingly common C&I loads.

Decarbonization thru Load Management Strategic Initiative

Challenges and Opportunities for Measuring Decarbonization Impacts from Load Management
This session, sponsored by the Decarbonization thru Load Flexibility strategic initiative, will explore the current approaches to measuring decarbonization through load management efforts. We will also explore possible paths forward as load management plays a larger role in decarbonization strategies. The strategic initiative is currently developing a “Load Flexibility-Carbon Framework” that characterizes load management-decarbonization use cases, the role of M&V, and the data sets and tools needed to translate load management impacts into carbon impacts. The session would include a presentation of the framework concepts, a recent example of quantifying load management program carbon impacts, and a group discussion/feedback session where we pose a series of questions regarding how quantification practices might evolve with respect to data needs, the baseline definitions, and applications of M&V findings for compliance, resource planning, and operational needs.

Connected Devices Interest Group

Resiliency as a Service
Customers are demanding greater resiliency from their utility.  This has prompted utilities to offer Resiliency as a Service (RaaS).  So, what is RaaS?  During this session, we will visit with several groups that have begun offering RaaS.  Other groups are beginning to think about it as an offering.  Come learn about what they are doing, what they have learned, and what you can do if you want to start offering RaaS to your customers. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Opening Session

Keynote Address

Description coming soon.

General Session 2

Defining a Buzzword: Virtual Power Plants and the Orchestration of Distributed Energy Resources

The definition of virtual power plants (VPPs) remains somewhat ambiguous across the energy industry. The panelists will address questions and topics around use cases, control frameworks, and operational approaches for VPPs, and engage audience members to move toward a clearer definition. Portland General Electric (PGE) is growing a VPP to provide essential grid services and deliver up to 25% of peak load when most needed. DERs and flexible loads, orchestrated through a technology platform, will deliver value 24/7/365 by coupling customer participation with PGE expertise and resources. This session will home in on the top-down virtual power plant (VPP) approach for controlling distributed devices, where the control of devices is orchestrated centrally while respecting device-owner needs and preferences. This control approach allows a utility to plan events and deliver grid services based on the desired behavior at the population level, without worrying about specific individual devices.

Virtual Power, Real Reliability: The Economics of Virtual Power Plants

Using hourly reliability analysis, this study demonstrates that a VPP could provide 400 MW of resource adequacy to a mid-sized utility with a dual peaking net load shape. Further, it shows that under plausible market conditions, the VPP is the only resource capable of providing resource adequacy at a negative net cost to the utility.

General Session 3

The Good, the Bad, and the Reality of Program Design

The proliferation of DERs continues to drive the need for device-based load management. Whether designing the more common smart thermostat programs or preparing to tackle grid strain caused by EVs, utility program design experiences often fall into three buckets: 1) The Good: Such as knowledge of resource base and understanding of the required components of end-to-end load management programming ; 2) The Bad: Including challenges to maintaining flexibility in program design and keeping programs cost-effective; 3) The Reality: For instance, the need to maximize customer choice through approved devices while acknowledging challenges posed by each vendor’s API fees. Attendees will hear from experts across program design functions, including those planning EV programs at Xcel Energy, C&I programs at Duke, and multiple DER programs at Dominion Energy. Panelists will share best practices they’ve implemented and the challenges they continue to face through the good, the bad, and the reality of program design.

General Session 4

Grid Resiliency: Innovative Approaches to Increasing Demand Response Participation

Grid emergencies are becoming more frequent due to increasing temperatures and growing demand on the grid. As these trends continue, utilities require solutions to further protect their customers from potential outages and maintain a reliable supply of energy. Demand response programs help balance the supply and demand of electricity during peak times throughout the year, however, only about 20-40% of eligible customers participate in these programs. So how can utilities engage the remaining 60-80% of customers during times when they need it most? In September 2022, ecobee launched a pilot in partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) that works to maintain grid stability during energy emergencies. On Sept 9th, 2022, this product was put into action when an EEA1 Alert was called in California. Learn how ecobee and SDG&E partnered together to further streamline participation in demand response and leverage effective communications to maximize customer engagement.

Utility Perspectives: A View from the Other Side

In this 30 minute session you will hear from several of our utility members concerning situations that they are encountering at their company. Example topics for this session could include: a "problem" that needs solving, or some unexpected results from a pilot (good or bad), or even just a request for information. These 3-5 minute presentations will have few slides, and focus on their particular situation. The goal is to create awareness and conversation for the upcoming "Networking Reception" as well as potential for follow-up throughout the conference or after the conference.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Track A: Retail Pricing

Evaluating Customer Impacts from Con Edison’s Smart Home Rate Demonstration

Con Edison and Orange & Rockland have been implementing a residential demand rate and thermostat demonstration project for two years. Their innovative program combines demand-based rates and critical peak pricing events with smart thermostats that are optimized to help customers save on energy costs. Con Edison and Orange & Rockland, ICF, Resource Innovations, and Opinion Dynamics will provide an overview of the program and key learnings including load impacts, structural and behavioral bill impacts, and customer reactions to the complex pilot. The presenters will also show how customer feedback evolved as the result of implementation changes between the two treatment summers.

Residential Household and EV Owner Impacts from ComEd’s Time-Of-Use Pilot

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) deployed its Residential Time-of-Use (TOU) Pricing Pilot in June 2020. The primary objective of the Pilot is to examine whether fixed-price time-of-use rates encourages customers to shift or reduce energy usage during the hours with the highest prices and, typically, highest usage. The Pilot encourages electric vehicle owners to charge their vehicles during the off-peak hours when prices are usually lower. ComEd, Resource Innovations, and Apex Analytics will provide a summary of the pilot along with key findings from the evaluation including load impacts, bill impacts, and customer survey responses. Both EV and non-EV owner households showed significant load shifting from the peak to off-peak periods (peak period reductions ranged from 6.5% - 9.7%). Another notable finding includes customers who have switched to electric-powered vehicle miles resulting in net daily kWh increases in home electricity use, with increases concentrated in the off-peak overnight hours.

Program Insights from Leveraging CPP and DR for Grid Flexibility

SMUD’s My Energy Optimizer program is a multi-DER program designed for residential customers to help reduce demand on SMUD's grid during emergency conditions and/or peak demand. In addition to automated demand response during peak hours, SMUD identified and marketed the program to customers who could benefit from a Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) rate. This session discusses learnings from the first year of the program, such as how customers engage with these more advanced rates, how the program is providing grid benefits, and carbon impacts from the program.

Track B: Other Topics

Demand Flexibility Under Building and Transportation Electrification: Trends and Performance

As buildings and transportation electrify, utilities will have to prepare for changes in the timing, magnitude, and duration of electric peak demand. Demand flexibility programs and rates can mitigate these issues, but utilities lack data on how their impacts coincide with forecasted electrification load. Additionally, utilities lack data on the design of these programs and rates. Insight into the timing, performance, and design of demand flexibility programs and rates can help utilities scale deployment and plan for building and vehicle electrification. 

This panel will begin with a presentation from Berkeley Lab on: forecasts of electrification load increases for partnering municipal utilities; the impacts of demand flexibility on distribution and system-wide peak demand; and trends in costs, scale, and design of demand flexibility programs and rates. Then, representatives from project partner municipal utilities will discuss how they plan to use the results of Berkeley Lab’s analysis.

Entergy Arkansas’s Smart Demand Response Program Solves Declining Capacity Challenge

Entergy Arkansas has been piloting a residential and small business smart thermostat demand response (DR) program in anticipation of bidding its capacity into MISO. They want to maximize the bid while minimizing the risk of failing to deliver the committed capacity. Thus, they challenged their demand response implementation partners to solve the problem of demand reduction that declines as the DR event progresses. The objective was to analyze and leverage all collected data to create operating strategies that would deliver “Maximum Sustained Yields” (MSY), i.e. levelized MW reductions, for an event of any duration. Entergy Arkansas, ICF and Connected Energy will provide an overview of the program, a brief description of a demand response program’s role in ISO bids, the creation of the MSY algorithm, and the before and after results. The MSY algorithm was deployed in 2021 and also used in 2022, delivering exceptional results while minimizing customer discomfort.

Optimizing for Equity, Environment, and Resiliency Benefits in DER Planning

We will present on how Portland General Electric (PGE) is using geographic analysis and front-end community engagement to support its distribution system planning process. PGE’s goal is to inform program prioritization and equitable benefit distribution by accounting for key community and customer characteristics. A range of data sources are used to develop composite indices representing several key prioritization factors, including equity (e.g., demographics, income, household characteristics), environment (e.g., local air quality), resiliency (e.g., wildfire risk), and grid/system need (e.g., power shutoff zones, reliability/risk metric). In this session, we will share the method currently being deployed to support distributed energy resource planning at the intersection of environmental, resiliency, and equity considerations. Along with overviewing technical approaches used for locational targeting, we will highlight aspects of the community engagement approach used in the process and provide some examples of how this method is currently being put into practice in PGE’s territory.

Track C: Electric Vehicle Topics

EV Behaviors across Various TOU Rates at Southern California Edison

SCE offers three TOU rates to its residential population with varying peak period hours. Rate 4 has a peak period from 4-9 PM, Rate 5 has a peak period from 5-8 PM, and Rate TOU-D-PRIME (Prime Rate) has a peak period from 4-9 PM and is available to customers with an EV, residential battery, or electric heat pump system. Importantly, the Prime Rate offers a particularly low off-peak price designed to incentivize EV owners to charge during the off-peak periods. A recent evaluation compared EV owners’ electricity usage behaviors across the three TOU rates and a traditional tiered rate. SCE and Apex Analytics will provide an overview of the various rates and key findings from the evaluation, including peak period load reductions and energy usage impacts, as well as SCE efforts to identify and enroll customers who are good candidates for the rate.

Beneficial Electrification with Vehicle to Grid: Roanoke Electric Cooperative's Experience

Since 2020, Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) and Fermata Energy have deployed vehicle-to-grid technology for demand response, demand charge reduction, and voltage-following for resilience during a power outage. This session will present REC’s vision to bring beneficial electrification and cost savings to its 14,000 member-customers, which includes vehicle-to-grid technology to stabilize grid operations and rates. REC serves a rural 100% Justice 40 service area. A first step in that vision is the deployment of one Nissan LEAF and one bidirectional 15 kW charger in partnership with Fermata Energy. This project has been operating continuously for 3 years. We will share results of these operations and how REC envisions scaling the technology across its service territory.

Active vs Passive: Lessons Learned from an EV Managed Charging Program

In 2021, CPS Energy simultaneously launched two innovative EV managed charging programs for residential customers: FlexEV Smart Rewards, a direct load control program where customers agree to let CPS Energy make remote adjustments to their charging during peak hours; and FlexEV Off Peak Rewards, a passive program where customers earn incentives for shifting their charging to off-peak hours. This presentation will compare and contrast the two approaches to managed charging, which historically have not been deployed in parallel in the same utility territory. Through the lens of enrollment and load shifting results to date, the presenters will share lessons learned and best practices for program design, incentive structure, marketing, and more.

Track D: Water Heating

EcoPortTM is Live! The Grid-Connected Water Heater

EcoPort is the brand name for hot water heaters and other grid-connected appliances that are compliant with the ATSC/CTA-2045 standard. All new water heaters are required to be CTA-2045 compliant in Washington and Oregon starting in 2023, and the California PUC also requires the standard among its Heat Pump Water Heater program requirements. This session will explore the CTA-2045 standard, the importance of grid connectivity for water heaters and other appliances, and the role that utilities will play in expanding programs to a new standard of communication. Duke Energy will share its experience in using water heater control at scale, what it looks for when developing new programs, and how existing programs may evolve as new technologies are adopted by manufacturers and customers. 

Understanding the Potential of Residential Water Heaters as Energy Storage for Grid Flexibility

High amounts of PV generation leads to grid stability problems. The strategic control of residential electric water heaters is a potential solution that warrants discussion. Our work has shown, during times of surplus PV generation, electrical energy can be stored as thermal energy by heating water above typical setpoints. Increased energy storage then, in turn, limits (possibly eliminates) the electrical demand of water heaters when net-demand rapidly increases, as PV generation diminishes. Key components of this solution are 1) a large number of cloud connected water heaters with commandable setpoints; 2) an intelligent controller that optimizes the thermal storage of surplus PV generation, the limiting/elimination of water heater demand during ramp times, and the ability of individual households to meet historic hot water needs; 3) a thermostatic mixing valve ensuring delivered hot water remains at a safe temperature despite “over heating” of water in the water heater.

Track E: Thermostat Programs

Test, Learn, Iterate: A Story of DR Pre-Enrollment and Mass Save

Decarbonizing our power system will require massive growth in utility flexibility programs, yet the typical DR program enrolls only 25% of customers with an eligible device. When customers buy their device on a utility marketplace with Demand Response Pre-Enrollment (DRPE), enrollment rates can reach 70%. This session will bring together utility executives, technology providers, and OEM manufacturers to discuss one utility’s approach to e-commerce, DRPE, and program optimization. The panel will explore National Grids DRPE journey, how they broke down barriers between EE and DR, and the strategy the utility employed to build a flexibility program that manages 80,000+ devices while putting customer satisfaction first.

Track F: Planning/Inclusion/Innovation

What Silo? SRP & Google's Approach to Program Innovation (including Income-Eligible Focus)

Working collaboratively and cross-functionally with utilities and implementers is essential to driving adoption of demand response programs across residential customer classes. Our session will showcase lessons learned from our partnership in 2022 with SRP and several of their implementers, where the team leveraged innovative strategies to increase participation in SRP’s Demand Response program. Our multi- pronged approach focuses on: Breaking down internal barriers/silos to maximize program effectiveness Eliminating financial barriers to participation for all customers Focusing on hard to reach communities (LMI and Multifamily) and addressing split incentive challenges and customer journey pain points Comprehensive marketing campaigns to drive demand and participation  Join us as we delve into lessons learned, operational challenges, and future opportunities to increase adoption and satisfaction of demand response programming.

Closing Session

Grid Resilience and Demand Flexibility in the Wake of Extreme Weather Events

A recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) warms that climate change is causing extreme weather conditions, and most of central and upper Midwest, Texas, and Southern California are at increased risk of blackouts. Grid operators across the country are grappling with climate-change induced wildfires, droughts, extreme heat/cold, storms, flooding etc. which are causing challenges to energy supply and grid resilience. These problems are exacerbated by the intermittency of renewable energy sources as utilities move toward phasing out fossil fuel powered generation sources. Some utilities have implemented grid emergency programs designed specifically to leverage load flexibility as a tool to mitigate climate change induced grid issues. This panel presents recent research and data on the severity of climate change induced grid emergencies, discusses experiences from utilities/ISO’s from across the country and showcase the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from new grid emergency programs implemented by utilities.