Changing the Paradigm: Demand-Side Management and Load Control
Both distribution and generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives across the nation are working to expand demand-side management and load control solutions to meet future energy needs.
Electric cooperatives have long engaged consumer-members as partners in promoting demand response, interruptible load control and real-time pricing programs. Cooperatives also lead in implementing system automation (smart grid) technologies that help maximize these and other efficiency efforts.
- Cooperatives, with 10 percent of the nation’s retail electricity sales, are responsible for 20 percent of actual peak reduction
- Cooperatives own nearly 25 percent of the nation’s residential peak load management capacity
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Where we stand:
As consumer-owned entities, cooperatives are best-positioned to know which energy efficiency, conservation and demand response programs would work for their members. NRECA therefore opposes mandates that require utilities to reduce electric usage by specified amounts by definite dates.
Electric cooperatives have a straightforward mission to provide reliable electric service to their consumer-owners at the lowest cost possible, and energy efficiency plays a major role. As part of these efforts, approximately 250 co-ops in 34 states have voluntary demand response programs using electric resistance water heaters that allow co-ops to reduce demand for electricity during peak hours. Electric water heaters also allow co-ops to integrate renewable energy like wind and store it for use during daytime peak hours. This results in cost benefits for co-ops and consumers, as well as energy efficiency benefits that offset the need to build new peaking generation and transmission lines.
In a 2010 the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a ruling that would have effectively banned the manufacture of large capacity electric resistance water heaters beginning in April 2015. Thanks to the hard work of the cooperative community, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, Congress passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015. The legislation allows for the continued manufacture of large electric resistance water heaters (“Grid-Enabled Water Heaters”) as long as they are used in demand response or load control programs.