Energy Efficiency

SRP launches thermostat demand management program

Salt River Project, the public power utility serving the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, has teamed up with EnergyHub for a program aimed at helping manage peak load on its system through the use of advanced thermostats.

SRP Flex Rewards, a Bring Your Own Thermostat (BYOT) pilot program, is designed to help the utility understand the potential of managing system peak through demand response and meet its demand-side management goals.

“This type of program will not only help customers save on their energy bill but also help SRP reduce the strain on the grid and avoid using additional generation assets to meet peak demand,” Jason Dudley, senior planning analyst at SRP, said.

Last year, SRP set its all-time peak demand record of 7,219 MW when temperatures hit 119 degrees on June 20. So far this summer, SRP’s peak was 6,894 MW on July 7.

EnergyHub is providing software that acts as a hub that can aggregate the feeds of thermostats from a variety of manufacturers. SRP already has a rebate program for Nest thermostats. That program will run concurrently with the new BYOT program.

“The flexibility of the EnergyHub platform allows for many customers to participate through a wide variety of thermostat manufacturers,” Dudley said.

It will be SRP’s first program with thermostats from multiple vendors. All the thermostats are “smart” in that they allow for two-way interchanges between the utility and its customers.

SRP can use that capability to control thermostats to reduce demand during peak hours. If the pilot program proves successful, it could be expanded out to include other devices such as water heaters and electric vehicle charging stations.

Under the program, customers can enroll eligible thermostats and receive a $75 incentive per device for enrolling up to two devices and a $25 participation incentive per device at the end of the summer season.

EnergyHub says that more than 30 U.S. utilities use its Mercury distributed energy resource management system to manage their demand response, energy efficiency, and distributed energy resource programs. EnergyHub also will manage the participation of all thermostat partners in the program.

“This program is going to help Salt River Project better manage its emerging grid needs while providing customers with plenty of options when it comes to selecting their connected thermostat,” Duane Pearson, manager of customer program innovation at SRP, said in a statement.

In a 2016 report, Navigant Research estimated there were about 50,000 BYOT customers nationwide, representing a $12.5 million market. The consulting firm estimated that the BYOT market could grow to 20 million customers, representing a $3 billion market.