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2020 PJM Demand Response Changes

By Becky Thompson

December 19, 2019

BIG changes to the PJM Demand Response program are coming in 2020.

If you’re currently participating in or considering enrolling in the PJM demand response program, here’s what you need to know.

What is Demand Response?

Demand response is a program designed to ensure reliability of the electric grid during peak demand periods.

Companies that enroll in the program agree to reduce their electric usage when they receive curtailment alerts. In return, they can receive substantial payments from PJM.

“I don’t think we can curtail any usage.”

That’s what clients initially say when we bring up demand response.

There are a variety of ways businesses can curtail their usage without major disruptions to daily operations. For example:

  • Industrial or manufacturing clients can shift production to off-peak hours.
  • Hospitals and data centers can use non-emergency backup generators that meet program requirements.
  • Schools and residential buildings can raise air conditioning set points by 5 degrees and turn off unused lighting.

What’s changing in 2020?

Up until 2019, organizations could enroll in a Base Capacity program that only required participation during summer months (typically June through September). Since most businesses use more power in the summer than the winter, they could easily match their projections and earn big payouts.

Starting in June 2020, the only available demand response program will be PJM Capacity Performance, a mandatory year-round program for participants.

Quick Facts about PJM Capacity Performance

  1. Demand response program participants will be required to curtail their usage during summer and winter events.
  2. Summer season is June 2020 – October 2020 and May 2021. Winter season is November 2020 – April 2021.
  3. There will be two test events  — one in summer and one in winter — and participants will have to participate in at least one of the tests.
  4. The enrollment deadline for the 2020 – 2021 is in the first or second week of May. However, the program has been decreased by 20% for this year – so enrollment space could run out before then. Site that sign up by the end of February should be able to get their desired kW enrollment value.

Why the change?

Blackouts occur when the demand for power exceeds the amount of supply available. And in recent years, winter blackouts have become more likely than summer because there is lower total supply available. In the Polar Vortex of 2014, PJM energy consumers were at risk of experiencing a blackout during one of the coldest winters in history.

As a result, PJM was forced to rethink how they viewed grid reliability.

How You Can Prepare Yourself for PJM Capacity Performance

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering enrolling in the new program:

  • The minimum requirement for curtailment is 100 kW.
  • Your curtailment ability will be the difference between your seasonal Peak Load Contribution (PLC) and your Firm Service Level (FSL). Since these can vary greatly between summer and winter, you may see a drastic reduction in your curtailment ability and potential payout.
  • To maximize your payout, ask your demand response vendor if they offer a seasonal performance program that allows you to have different curtailment values for summer and winter.
  • Enrollment in the demand response program is limited because the total MW allotment has been decreased by 20%. It could be beneficial for you to sign a longer Demand Response agreement to ensure your seat at the table in the future.

Despite the changes coming to the program, demand response could be a viable way for your organization to generate some additional revenue. Contact us to discuss if the program is a good fit for you.

 

About the Author

Becky is a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor specializing in the public sector, including schools and municipalities. She has been in the energy industry for over five years, working from the ground up as an account manager and then as an electric pricing team lead. Her background knowledge of the inner workings or an energy company helps her identify actionable strategies for making her clients’ energy strategies both easy and cost-effective. In her free time, Becky enjoys any activity that requires being outside and making her son belly laugh.

Becky can be reached at (630) 225-4561 or bthompson@naniaenergy.com.

Demand Response: What It Is & What It Can Do For Your Illinois School District

By Becky Thompson

January 29, 2018 – The two questions I get asked the most when speaking to public school administrators about demand response are:

  1. What is it?
  2. What can it do for my district?

In short, demand response is a program that helps ensure reliability for the electricity grid by getting customers to reduce energy usage during times of peak energy demand. Demand response matters because it provides monetary incentives for participating organizations (including school districts who are already facing immense pressure to perform).

Demand response also reduces the risk of blackouts by ensuring that demand does not exceed overall capacity (how much power the grid can handle). This boosts reliability of the grid by making sure enough energy is available when and where it’s most needed.

Here’s what it can do for your Illinois public school district, as well as some guidance for getting your school prepared for it.

Benefits of Demand Response Programs.

Demand response is a revenue generator for schools.

Demand response generates revenue for your school by providing monetary payments for participation in the program. When you sign up, you’ll designate a percentage of your usage during the test period that you can possibly conserve. So long as you comply with this amount during a 1-hour planned “test event,” you will be due these monies.

Demand response has significant earning potential for schools.

Enrollment in demand response programs is measured in kilowatts (kW) with a minimum of 100 KW.

Each year over the course of 3 years, school customers can earn about $5000 per 100 kw of enrollment and curtailment (reduction) during events.

Demand response is a low-cost, low-risk way to reduce your energy load.

Since demand response tests are done in the summer, they typically won’t affect normal class schedules. Some schools will have summer school, sports or other extracurriculars going on during that time. But it’s easy for schools to survey those schedules and work testing around them.

READ MORE: Demand Response on EIA. gov

Prepping for a Demand Response program.

Test events last one hour. These test events ensure the enrollment of kW a customer commits to is achievable.

Inventory your school’s summer activities & extracurriculars.

When scheduling demand response tests, your school should survey activities and schedule the tests around those dates and times. This is to minimize (or even eliminate) any impact on any summer school or extracurriculars.

Use a generator or building automation system (BAS) to reduce your school’s energy.

If scheduling around those times is too challenging, there are other ways to work around the demand response testing period.

Using a generator or some kind of building automation system can reduce the demand that your school might have during these periods without compromising on your needs. There are specific rules governing which generators qualify for the program, but energy advisors can assist with getting qualifying generators registered for it.

Keep a building engineer on site.

Having a building engineer on site can help guide you through the demand response testing. From turn down to restart, an engineer can provide an accurate assessment of what your school building can and can’t handle. They can help you make a more accurate estimate of how much you can save – thus putting you in a better position to hit your goal.

Demand response is a valuable offering to school districts, particularly in the summer months. By reducing your energy usage during near capacity events, you can actually reduce your costs and make your school some added revenue.

If you have any questions on demand response programs in your area, I’d be more than willing to help. Call our office at 630-225-4557 and we can discuss how demand response can generate revenue for your district.


About The Author

 

Becky is a Senior Strategic Energy Advisor specializing in the public sector, including schools and municipalities. She has been in the energy industry for over five years, working from the ground up as an account manager and then as an electric pricing team lead. Her background knowledge of the inner workings of an energy company helps her identify actionable strategies for making her clients’ energy both easy and cost effective. In her free time, Becky enjoys any activity that requires being outside and making her son belly laugh.

Becky can be reached via email at bthompson@naniaenergy.com or phone at (630) 225-4561.