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FERC staff: 3 Eastern grid operators top demand response potential in 2015

In its annual review of demand response and advanced metering, FERC staff noted a slight uptick in the the contribution of demand response programs in meeting peak demand in the organized wholesale energy markets, thanks in part to strides made in the PJM Interconnection LLC, New York ISO and ISO New England Inc.

The new report showed that overall potential peak reduction from wholesale demand response programs rose to 6.6% in 2015, up from 6.2% in 2014. Nationwide, total potential peak reduction from retail demand response programs increased by 4,096 MW, or 15.1%, between 2013 and 2014.

Potential peak reductions ranged widely across the country, with certain regions experiencing dramatic increases while others stayed stagnant or actually decreased their demand response. For instance, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council saw an increase of more than 2,700 MW over the previous year due to higher reported savings attributed to commercial and industrial programs operated by Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison Co. Similarly, NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary Florida Power & Light Co. helped the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council region return to peak potential reduction levels last seen in 2012. Those gains, however, were offset by losses elsewhere, such as in the Southwest Power Pool Inc. and the ReliabilityFirst Corp. region.

As for the regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, three saw growth in 2015, according to FERC staff. Overall, potential peak reduction in those grid operators' markets rose to 31,754 MW, a 10% increase from the previous year, outpacing peak demand growth of 4%. The largest increase occurred in PJM with the addition of almost 2,500 MW or a 24% increase in potential, followed by a 9% rise in the NYISO and an 8% increase in the ISO-NE.

Wholesale demand response potential fell in the California ISO footprint by more than 150 MW due to decreased enrollment in price-responsive demand programs operated by SoCalEd and PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. SPP saw no load-reducing demand response activity in its market since March 2014.

Advanced meters continued to be deployed in the U.S. markets, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as collected by FERC. In 2014, 58.5 million advanced meters were in use nationwide out of a total of 144.3 million total meters, which indicates a 40.6% penetration rate, while the penetration rate the prior year was 37.6%.

FERC also examined key events related to demand response that have occurred over the past year, including the U.S. Supreme Court decision in FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association, which upheld the commission's signature demand response rule. The report also noted that four new demand response metrics have been developed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp.