Energy Northwest, BPA Launch Demand Response Pilot Project

Energy Northwest and Bonneville Power Administration announced a regional demand response program expected to come online in January 2015. Under the contract, EN will develop a 19-megawatt demand response pilot project with the option of bringing online additional demand response resources up to a total of 25 megawatts.

Energy Northwest expects up to $2 million in gross revenue value from the pilot project; much of this funding will support the comprehensive data gathering, monitoring, control and communications infrastructure and processes necessary to implement the regional program.

“This agreement furthers the Energy Northwest vision to be the region’s leader in power generation and energy solutions through sustained excellence in performance and innovation,” said Energy Northwest CEO Mark Reddemann.

Generation imbalance and reliability on the transmission grid is a challenge for balancing authorities such as BPA to manage. This agreement will explore the potential for energy end-users to lower within-hour consumption as a balancing management resource. Energy Northwest will lead the effort to assemble and operate an aggregated “fast reaction” demand response-capacity resource and BPA will evaluate the project’s ability to supply electricity reserves and other regional transmission system needs.

In the past, BPA provided balancing services such as these being tested solely with capacity from its hydro system. However, growing demands on the hydro system have limited its flexibility to provide this capacity so BPA is exploring third-party capacity sources.

Conceptually, demand response builds on the idea that while individual electricity loads are relatively minor compared to the scale of a regional transmission grid, many loads lowered and raised at once may serve as a cost effective alternative to building – or purchasing – the output of additional electric generating stations.

Energy Northwest will develop the Demand Response Aggregation Control System, a comprehensive data gathering, monitoring, control and communications infrastructure. Communication devices will be installed by each participating utility to report to and receive direction from the DRACS via secure cloud-based data paths. DRACS will be hosted within Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded incubator facility built and operated for such roles.


The DRACS infrastructure will support the demand response initiative. (Click to Enlarge)

“This regional demand response program will be the first-of-its-kind program in the Northwest led by public power, for public power,” said Jim Gaston, General Manager of Energy Services and Development.

Energy Northwest and its public utility partners will assemble diverse electric loads from customers willing and able to reduce their electric demand on short notice. The participating public utilities that provide the customer loads for the demand response resource are expected to include utility participants in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“The Demand Response project team remains open for participation from additional regional public utilities,” said John Steigers, Generation Project Developer and project manager for Energy Northwest’s demand response program. “We anticipate the demand response program will be a regional resource that will grow in value as additional utilities, load assets, and products are added to the resource.”

–By Laura Scheele, Energy Northwest

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