Energy Efficiency

Colorado Springs Utilities offers new demand response program

Colorado Springs Utilities (Springs Utilities) is rolling out a new software platform for its demand management program for its business customers that the utility believes will garner a more robust response than its previous program.

The Colorado public power utility has contracted with AutoGrid to provide it with demand management software and for Franklin Energy to administer the program.

“We are very excited about this program; we believe it is much more of a win-win approach than the previous program,” Kenny Romero, demand side management and renewable energy solutions manager at Springs Utilities, said.

The new software platform, AutoGrid Flex™, will allow Springs Utilities to consolidate management of its demand response resources into a unified system. It will also provide the utility to automatically and remotely shift or reduce electricity use of customers participating in the program, and it can measure and verify energy savings.

Commercial and industrial customers on demand rates will be able to use the software to participate in the utility’s Peak Savings Program, which is designed to conserve energy and provide savings to customers by reducing electricity use during periods of critical peak demand. The program is expected to achieve 40 megawatts of flexible load capacity by 2020.

The software platform also includes AutoGrid Engage™, which provides a portal for customer engagement that allows enrolled customers to view program details, access real-time use data and curtailment history, and receive alerts for new demand response events. The software includes a dashboard feature that allows customers enrolled in the program to monitor their energy use.

The AutoGrid Flex platform is designed to optimize and extract flexible capacity from all distributed energy resources, including battery storage devices, and distributed generation such as solar panels and onsite environmentally compliant generators.

A key difference between the utility’s new and old demand management programs is that the new program uses avoided capacity costs to determine incentive values.

The program is designed so it provides value to the utility and is still attractive to customers, Romero said. The past program was based on “the difference between on- and off-peak power prices and it wasn’t as generous.”

Springs Utilities has already begun to engage with its commercial and industrial customers and intends to begin rolling out the demand management program to all business customers on a demand rate in January. The program will probably not see its first use until April of next year, Romero said.

Springs Utilities also has a residential demand management program. It plans to transition that program to the AutoGrid platform next year, Romero said.

New Energy Vision

Springs Utilities demand management program is a key part of the resource planning process that the utility has embarked on. “We are in the midst of developing a new Energy Vision for our community,” Springs Utilities spokeswoman Amy Trinidad said.

For the past decade, the utility’s Energy Vision has been made up of a set of renewable energy and efficiency goals. It aims to provide 20% of its total electric energy through renewable sources with 1% from distributed generation sources by 2020 at a maximum impact on customers’ bills of 1%. The utility also intends to help customers reduce their electric use by 12% and reduce electric demand by 12% with a maximum bill impact of 2%.

As the electric industry continues to transform over the coming years, Springs Utilities expects to see new technologies drive more cost-effective renewable energy resources, demand-side management, energy storage and smart grid opportunities. These are the type of issues that will be addressed in the utility’s new Energy Vision to be completed mid-2019.