Demand Response Symposium Plans to Build on Its Success

Enhancing the power grid's ability to reduce and shift load when needed

Last week, a sold-out gathering of energy professionals met to talk about how the Northwest could advance a resource long used to meet loads in times of peak electricity use: demand response.

Demand response, as one presenter described it, is similar to when an airline offers passengers free flights to open up seats on an overbooked flight. DR enables utilities to access energy – or shift load – when they need one or the other to balance the system.

The Demand Response Symposium brought researchers, regulators, utilities, and vendors together to share information on how to develop and implement the resource that the Council's Seventh Power Plan found could help the region meet its capacity needs. The plan recommends developing at least 600 megawatts by 2021, which could save the region billions of dollars.

"I think what people came away with was the sense that this is a goal we can meet; it's not as daunting as people thought," said Tina Jayaweera, senior efficiency analyst for the Council.

Building on the symposium's success is the next step. For now, it seems likely to continue as an annual event hosted by the Smart Grid Northwest, with the Pacific Northwest Demand Response Project's participation. The Council's newly formed demand response advisory committee, scheduled to meet for the first time in December, will focus on helping the region develop the recommended DR identified in its power plan.

“We’ve built a system based on efficiency,” says Ben Kujala, the Council’s acting power division director. “Demand response is another component in maintaining our low-cost, reliable power supply.”