June 18, 2021

EBCE Investigates a Modern Approach to Energy Conservation

2 min read

East Bay Community Energy, which is a public energy company in the San Francisco region that serves around 1.4 million residents, is experimenting with a new strategy for energy conservation that could offer significant benefits to consumers and also system-wide benefits to the EBCE as a whole, as well as help reduce global warming emissions. The evening peak is a major technological issue for EBCE as it works towards that zero-emission power program over the next decade. Solar power is abundant and inexpensive throughout the day, but once the sun sets, something else must be sufficient to satisfy power demand. The most popular method now is to combust natural gas in power stations, that are not zero-emission. One option is for EBCE to arrange for energy storage; however, another is to reduce demand during those evening hours.

Use a thermostat that is programmable to “pre-cool” a home on very hot summer afternoons when the solar power is inexpensive and plentiful, then switch off the air conditioner throughout evening peak hours. A properly insulated home can be able to serve as a “cool-energy” battery. The costliest times to purchase electricity are during those peak hours, pushing up prices for all the EBCE customers. Everyone benefits from saving energy during peak hours.

Installing a series of approved steps, such as light bulbs, insulation, as well as energy-efficient appliances, is the focus of conventional energy efficiency initiatives. These interventions, without a doubt, minimize energy demand, yet program managers have no idea how much or when. Savings are priced lower than they should be because they are unpredictable.

EBCE is rewarding energy efficiency vendors based on their capacity to minimize demand during evening peak and offer verified savings to prospective consumers via a new “Pay for Performance” strategy. Pay for Performance pilot projects for the single-family residential, industrial, as well as low-income residential consumers were launched by EBCE in the year 2019. Recurve was employed by EBCE to create a dashboard that leverages the company’s in-house data processing capabilities. EBCE’s early focus on data processing sped up the process by several months.

The dashboard examines customer loads in-depth, establishes baselines, and then monitors how customer loads adjust in response to energy efficiency steps. The dashboard is powered by a steady stream of sub-hourly data from smart meters, enabling EBCE to prioritize the consumers who will profit the most from the program while still providing the most value to the company. Customers who have a high demand during the evening peak hours (blue line) are extracted out of the general population, allowing services to focus on those that have the greatest opportunity to save.

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