Con Edison Launches GridRewards Pilot Program
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Sustainable Westchester, a nonprofit consortium of municipalities in Westchester County, New York, has partnered with Logical Buildings, a smart building technology software and systems integrator, to launch the GridRewards program. GridRewards allows energy users (residents and businesses) to receive cash rewards from participating in utility Con Edison’s demand response program, while also assisting in the reduction of monthly energy bills.
Duke Energy Florida plans to reduce customers’ bills in May to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the Florida Public Service Commission approves the request, a typical residential customer will see a decrease of nearly 21 percent on their May bill. “We understand that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our residential and business customers are facing financial challenges,” Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida state president, said. “During these unprecedented times, we want to find creative solutions to provide relief and continue to work hard to deliver the best possible price for our customers.”
For years, the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been working on technologies that could turn distributed energy resources — specifically, smart solar inverters and batteries — into tools for keeping the grid stable. It’s a tough task, requiring second-by-second coordination of behind-the-meter generators, batteries and loads to prevent them from throwing grid voltage and frequencies out of whack — or beyond that, to tap their flexibility to respond positively to grid disruptions.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it has become clear that we are not living in an environment of business as usual. So much of what we took for granted has shifted or been challenged. Customers who generally spend only a few minutes a year thinking about their energy bill are starting to look at their utility more closely, and utilities want to make sure to show up for their consumers and community during this time. With so many people home all day and facing financial uncertainty alongside higher than expected energy bills, it’s never been so important to communicate clearly and emphatically.
As the patterns of our lives shift in response to COVID-19, our energy profiles are shifting, too. Overall, electricity demand has decreased and is expected to remain lower as commercial buildings, factories and other large electricity users slow or stop operations. Residential use, on the other hand, is expected to rise as we shelter in place. On March 12, Bloomberg claimed “Every day’s a weekend.” But it’s a weekend day when people stay inside Zooming, streaming and gaming.
Millions of people are staying home right now to protect their communities and care for their families. We’re all having to adjust – from modified work situations to impromptu homeschooling – and those changes, not surprisingly, are causing families to use more energy at home. Our early analysis of one region’s energy data shows a shelter-in-place order may have caused a 20-percent increase in residential energy use. And those higher energy bills are beginning to arrive at a moment when many households can least afford to pay them.
Measures to curb the COVID-19 outbreak could reduce previous forecasts for global energy storage deployments by 19 percent, according to a report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables — but the sector is still “set to thrive” over the next five years. If the pandemic causes an economic downturn and restrictions on the movement of goods and people continue through the second quarter of the year, analysts would need to shave 3 GWh of storage capacity from prior estimates.
California officials expect that the state needs 1 gigawatt of new long-duration energy storage by 2026 to advance its clean-energy transition. That figure emerged in the “reference system portfolio” that the California Public Utilities Commission approved on March 26. The grid planning document calls for no new gas plants, although almost all of the existing capacity is expected to remain online throughout the decade. But it adds 11 gigawatts of utility-scale solar by 2030, nearly 3 gigawatts of wind and a groundbreaking amount of energy storage.