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Demand response contributes more than just sustainability to K-12 public school system

May 01, 2017

The Virginia Beach City Public School System is on a mission. At the heart of that mission lies a commitment to education, which you’d expect from the largest school division in southeastern Virginia. What you might not expect is how money earned from participating in demand response programs is helping fund the VBCPS’ drive toward academic excellence.

Ranked the fifth best large school division in the entire nation by GreatSchools, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) has earned a reputation for fostering a culture of outstanding academics.

That’s not all the school division has earned lately.

Since 2014, VBCPS has also earned over $250,000 through demand response and demand management. The increased revenue has helped pave the way for a sustainable future of energy efficiency and academic achievement.

Compass to 2020
VBCPS’ Charting the Course initiative was launched in 2015 to set the vision of school division over the next five years. The strategic framework includes four goals – high academic expectations, multiple pathways, social-emotional development, and culture of growth and excellence – and multiple strategies to guide this important work. This focus on excellence at VBCPS extends into their drive towards energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives across their entire K-12 campus system and facilities.

VBCPS understands the importance of conserving resources and protecting our environment. Among the nearly 70,000 students and approximately 15,000 employees are the often unique and innovative conservation efforts that can be found in every office and school in the division. As a testimony to this commitment, they have embraced Demand Response participation with support at all levels of the organization, from the office of the president to the facilities personnel, faculty, and students.

The Opportunity
VBCPS has been participating in the PJM Emergency Capacity DR and Energy Efficiency programs with CPower since 2013. They participate through the State Contract E194-1378 administered by the Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME), which has joined forces with CPower to bring enhanced Demand Response services to Virginia.
VBCPS has 85 schools, 13 of which were registered in 2016 to participate in the Emergency DR program. The peak load of the 13 school campuses is 9.6MW of which they curtail 8MW when called upon to reduce load during times of grid emergencies. Since 2014, their efforts have brought in earnings of over $250,000, which they have used to fund additional efficiency projects to support campus-wide sustainability goals.

Consistent Success
VBCPS staff at each participating school takes ownership of their Demand Response participation and have consistently over-performed each season thanks to:

  • Excellent cross-functional preparation and pre-season on-boarding with their facilities personnel and the CPower team
  • End-to-end communications/notifications exercise and load drop test conducted by CPower allows the VBCPS team to identify potential issues (if any) and take actions to fix them
  • Effective curtailment planning strategies to optimize load reductions with minimal impact on campus staff and students
  • Complete buy-in, approvals and support from the VBCPS school division management
  • VBCPS facilities team has sharp focus on setting up a detailed process for participation based on each school’s timecards and student schedules/events
  • Team expectations clearly; communications plan includes command central (radio, email, telephone, text) with notifications as early as possible
    Regular meetings and clear internal communications (via newsletters, posters etc.)
  • Team expectations clearly; communications plan includes command central (radio, email, telephone, text) with notifications as early as possible
  • Regular meetings and clear internal communications (via newsletters, posters etc.)
  • Every year pre-season, the VBCPS team proactively updates their Demand Response informational guide and set of procedures
  • With a total of 8 staff in Central Command and 30 across the other schools; they maintain 2-3 trained staff per school, with 1 person handling a specific event at each school and the rest at back -up in the case of vacations/illness. Moreover, experienced staff members act as mentors/trainers for others that are new to the program.

Challenges and Lessons Learned
Some initial challenges included managing data from multiple utility meters as well as different building automation systems (BAS). However, the methods used above with site-specific planning allowed VBCPS to overcome the hurdles. Some sites have an Easy Button and use an automated approach while some utilize a more detailed hands-on approach.
In the end, clear communications and reliable equipment/metering are key factors for consistent performance. For instance, there was an emergency event called at the end of the season in 2013, where VBCPS delivered per their commitments even though school was fully in session. The schools also got the added benefit of earning energy payments from that event.

Forward-Thinking towards a Sustainable Future
Additionally, in 2014 the team pioneered the State of Virginia Energy Efficiency effort with lighting upgrades across the division footprint. They embraced the energy efficiency program, connecting CPower with their contractors to get the required information of qualified projects, and ultimately will earn close to $100,000 for their efforts.

Looking to the future, VBCPS has consistently added load reductions to their commitment to support grid reliability. They have added 8 more schools with an additional 2.8 MW of curtailable load to participate in the 2017 PJM performance season program, and are also exploring the PJM Economic DR program. Four new lighting upgrades from the spring of 2017 were submitted to the PJM Energy Efficiency program. The team at VBCPS are a powerful asset to demand response. By providing their operating procedures as a starting point to other participants, they have served as mentors for other schools – providing encouragement to their peers so they feel confident to take advantage of the program and optimize energy earnings and savings at other K12s across the Commonwealth.

Contact Leigh Anne Ratliff or anyone on CPower’s PJM team at www.CPowerEnergyManagement.com/markets/pjm-interconnection-contact

Hot Summer Ends Without Emergency Demand Response Events in PJM

October 07, 2016

The 2016 PJM summer compliance season which runs from June through September has come to an end without a PJM-initiated emergency demand response (DR) event.  The first six months of the year were already one of the warmest on record. So, for many of us sweating it out across the northeast, it was no surprise that this summer produced several heat waves that pushed system peaks to their highest levels in recent years.  PJM’s top 5 system peaks (see table), reflect the summer’s weather and should be the Five Coincidental Peaks (5CP) that drive customers’ capacity charges through their Peak Load Contribution (PLC).  It is important to note that any load reductions during these hours may reduce your capacity charges for next summer.

5cp-pjm-summer-2016

When it came to actual demand response events, however, a different picture unfolded compared to prior years. For instance, the 2013 summer saw system peaks at similar levels and was one of the most active summers for demand response customers ever.  So you may ask: Why were no Emergency DR events called this summer, despite the heat and high system peaks? A few reasons come to mind:

  1. Some of it may be attributed to PJM’s new reliability product, Capacity Performance (CP), which debuted this delivery year and imposes greater availability requirements on generation;
  2. Some of it may be attributed to increased transmission efficiency;
  3. Also, flat or declining system peaks are starting to reflect the impact of energy efficiency regulations (the last system peak demand record was set in 2007); and finally
  4. Pure Luck? After all, the timing of several heat waves passing through the PJM territory coincided during weekends.

Whatever the primary reason(s), PJM Emergency DR customers should take pride in their commitment to be on standby to reduce load when called upon. Your ability to curtail electricity consumption when needed by the grid is a tremendous asset to maintaining system reliability and preventing potential blackouts/brownouts.

This doesn’t mean that PJM may not have a reliability issue beyond the summer as the program year does run through May 2017. Also, while the summer period yields the greatest risk of an emergency event, demand response customers that have committed to curtailments all year should continue to be prepared to perform and reduce load if/when needed to support grid reliability.

Moreover, with the transition to the new CP product, demand response is morphing into a year-round program. Customers can start participating in CP now to get themselves prepared for the coming changes and earn additional capacity revenue in the process. Many forward-thinking facility managers are already thinking about how they may be able to participate beyond the summer and are reviewing effective winter curtailment strategies.

CPower would like to take this time to thank all demand response customers for their commitment to PJM reliability this summer.  CPower customers can always review their load drop test and event performance in the CPower App and should be expecting summer performance reports and payments starting early November.

Last but not least, we always encourage all participants to stay tuned for earnings opportunities in other DR programs available. Many participants augment their demand response earnings from the capacity program via active participation in PJM’s voluntary programs such as (price based) economic demand response and (faster response) ancillary services such as synchronized reserves.

Please feel free to contact Dann or the CPower team if you have any questions. Our engineering team is happy to help you understand the nuances of participating in these programs and assist in optimizing your overall energy savings and earnings year round.

The City of Danville Finds Success with Demand Response and CPower

March 28, 2016

AMP Member passes ordinance, increases revenues through energy reduction

Hardworking businesses form the backbone of the City of Danville, Virginia. When it comes to overseeing the energy needed to run the city’s economic engine, Danville Utilities—the City of Danville’s electrical department—understands the need to maintain the balance between consumption and conservation.

“As a municipal utility, we are always encouraging our customers to find ways to save energy,” says Meagan Baker, Danville Utilities’ Key Accounts Manager. The City of Danville — an AMP member municipality — perpetually seeks ways that not only allow their customers to conserve energy, but also allow the utility to save on congestion and transmission charges during the most critical peak times of the year.

Enter demand response and, what the City of Danville calls, “a win-win situation for the utility and the customer.”

In early 2014, the City of Danville adopted a resolution authoring their participation in the PJM demand response program for retail customers. The resolution allowed Danville’s city manager to execute an agreement with American Municipal Power approving the city’s participation in PJM’s demand response programs, which pay businesses for reducing their energy use during the few times each year when the PJM grid is stressed.

The agreement also named CPower as the City of Danville’s exclusive PJM curtailment service provider in charge of implementing and facilitating the city’s demand response. Danville Utilities believes their customers couldn’t be in more capable hands.

“CPower has been a great source for implementing our demand response program. Bill Oosterom, our account manager, has been our go-to person from start to finish. From educating customers about the program, getting them enrolled and assisting with any questions and/or concerns they have along the way, the process has been very transparent and straightforward. This streamlined approach makes it easier for our customers as well.” – Meagan Baker Key Accounts Manager, City of Danville

The City of Danville Finds Success with Demand Response and CPower

CPower’s hands-on style of energy management includes the kind of customer-focused touch the business owners of Danville appreciate. CPower’s Bill Oosterom believes that being personally involved in his customers’ demand response participation is a key reason the City of Danville has enjoyed energy management success.

“No two businesses are alike,” says Mr. Oosterom, who has more than 33 years of experience as an energy consultant. “Demand response shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it process. At CPower, we work closely with all our customers to fine tune their demand response participation over time and ensure they get the maximized results and revenue they deserve.”

So far, the results from the City of Danville’s demand response participation have proven to be substantial. Participating customers have earned significant revenue through demand response (more than $97,000 in aggregate for the 2015-2016 program years), with many businesses choosing to put their earnings toward energy efficient upgrades or other capital improvement projects.

Even the City of Danville, itself, has participated in demand response with great success. Facing a need to offset operational costs, the City of Danville enrolled its municipal-owned water and wastewater treatment plants in the program and have now earned valuable revenue (more than $30,000 for the 2015/2016 program) to help budgets of future projects. Civic leaders feel the City of Danville’s involvement in demand response provides a lead-by-example model of energy management. “We are always asking our customers to conserve,” says Meagan Baker, “so we must practice what we preach.”

For the City of Danville, the future looks bright as the number of businesses in their municipality participating in demand response is on the rise. With CPower and demand response on their side, the City of Danville is poised to do their part to keep the grid in balance, the environment in good health, and their hardworking customers in expert hands when it comes to energy management.

“The program has been very beneficial in educating our customer base on the importance of energy efficiency and demand response. As our customers continue to succeed, I believe the word will spread, positively influencing other customers to also become involved. We are excited to grow the program.” — Meagan Baker

AMP urges you to pass your local demand response ordinance as quickly as possible, to ensure that there is ample time for program participants to be registered for the 2017-2018 program year.