How Businesses are Leveraging Demand Response to Help Create Energy Resilient Communities, and how Walgreens is Paving the Way.

Since its inception, the U.S. electrical grid has mostly relied on a one-way transmission of electricity from centralized generation facilities, through a system of power lines and substations, to delivery for use in homes and buildings. As grid modernization efforts focus on improving and firming up operations, energy consumers are increasingly incentivized to take advantage of new, smart energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) technology to engage in automated, bi-directional communication with the grid.

Demand response has been around for decades, but programs have primarily targeted large buildings, public infrastructure, and industrial complexes with high energy demand. However, new technologies are now enabling harder-to-reach small and medium building types to participate and finally take part in EE and DR energy savings and incentives. While load reduction at a medium-size retailer may not be comparable to that of a manufacturing plant, many smaller buildings aggregated together within a load zone or across a utility territory can provide meaningful, flexible capacity – driving grid resiliency for operators and customers. There is a massive opportunity to apply these solutions for over 30 million commercial buildings under 200K sq. ft. across the country.

Businesses are becoming increasingly pressured to adopt sustainable practices and report on carbon reductions, but on top of these progressing social and corporate norms, EE and DR technologies benefit commercial energy consumers economically. Climate change, the transition to renewables, and building and transportation electrification trends are causing significant disruptions impacting energy reliability and supply costs. Grid-interactive technologies enable automated control of energy consumption and the capability to respond to grid signals in real-time, reduce energy costs, avoid peak demand charges, contribute to energy reliability, and helps to build more energy resilient communities.

California’s grid emergency in 2020 demonstrates how urgent the problem is and how impactful demand response can be. From August 14 – 21, 2020, California experienced Stage 3 emergency conditions as extreme heat paired with other unforeseen circumstances left the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) with forecasted daily capacity shortages up to 4,400 MW. The deficit resulted in rolling blackouts Friday through Sunday across the state. By Monday, through a combination of dispatching existing demand response (DR) capacity and enabling automated voluntary end-user conservation efforts, there was a significant reduction in demand which prevented further blackouts.

As an early adopter of commercial DR programs, Walgreens leveraged GridPoint’s technology to immediately and voluntarily curtail load across impacted California locations throughout the emergency. Because they already had a DR strategy and program in place, Walgreens was able to make a difference in their community while reducing costs at the same time. Watch this video to learn how Walgreens and GridPoint are helping create the blueprint for how commercial businesses will interact with utilities and the grid going forward.

Programs like these are essential to modernizing the grid. Like the one in California, Grid emergencies will continue to occur as the U.S. transitions to a more decarbonized grid. While utility and consumer investments tend to focus on renewables, there are clear impacts to existing energy distribution infrastructure as new distributed energy resources (DER) are deployed at scale. Automated demand response will play a pivotal role in the energy transition by acting as the bridge between traditional carbon-intensive generation assets and new clean energy technologies to provide the reliability needed by the dynamic, DER-driven grid of the 21st Century. GridPoint focuses on the millions of commercial businesses occupying small and medium buildings that are not currently participating in demand response. As utilities launch programs and solutions for the underserved small and medium commercial market, more businesses, like Walgreens, will be incentivized to become grid-interactive utilizing energy efficiency and demand response technology. At scale, this means more energy resilient communities that contribute to a more sustainable future and a cleaner, more reliable energy grid.


Tracking Energy Management Progress­

You’ve already set goals, but how do you make sure you’re on track to reach them? GridPoint’s three dimensional data helps actively track savings so you know exactly which goals you’re accomplishing and where you may need to improve.

 

 


GridPoint’s 3 Dimensions of Data

 

GridPoint ties customer baseline energy consumption data to the IPMVP empirical model in order to weather-normalize trends. This means GridPoint can accurately calculate the kWh reduction the solution is providing and validate its savings over time.

The IPMVP empirical model takes historical energy consumption data for individual sites, incorporates weather at those sites, and predicts what the energy usage would have been without GridPoint’s solution installed.

Savings Dashboard for a Large Multi-site Customer

 

On top of validating hard savings, GridPoint’s Energy Advisory Services team combs through millions of data points daily to catch any facility issues a site may be experiencing individually or on an enterprise-level. We call these issues exceptions. Quickly identifying and correcting these exceptions keep sites running safely, and keeps you on track to meet your goals. Some exceptions include:

  • HVAC exceptions – Noting recurring issues and performing preventative maintenance to reduce prolonged negative impact to building operation.
  • Lighting exceptions– Minimizing unnecessary lighting consumption by use of control schedules and photo sensors
  • Refrigeration exceptions – Maintaining health and food safety temperature compliance
  • Water heater exceptions – Safeguarding water temperatures to decrease likelihood of waterborne bacteria (i.e. legionnaires disease)
  • Power outages – Notifying customers of outages, especially related to extreme weather storms (i.e. hurricanes, blizzards, flooding)
  • Voltage Imbalances – Notifying customers of high voltage imbalances which can have a negative impact on motors. Customers can then notify the utility to resolve the issue

Keep Momentum Going

GridPoint’s solution is designed to continuously drive savings over time. Our data-driven approach has been proven superior through years of experience eliminating waste and providing energy savings across many different businesses and building types. GridPoint believes customization is key, and each customer is paired with a solution package that best fits their needs and goals.   Of course those needs and goals can change as a business develops, and GridPoint’s technology can be easily modified to support those future objectives as well. Fill out your information below to learn how GridPoint can help achieve and track success of your energy goals.

 


Jack French

Energy Data Analyst

Jack evaluates energy consumption patterns to provide customers a comprehensive overview of building operation and performance. Using data-driven strategies, he provides insight on how to optimize efficiency, comfort, and equipment lifespan


Powerful Plans for Carbon Reduction

Powerful Plans for Carbon Reduction

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the Clean Power Plan proposal, a rule that would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels. According to the EPA, power plants account for nearly a third of the nation’s carbon emissions and account for a major portion of our environment’s pollution.

Created as an extension of President Obama’s climate change action plan, the Clean Power Plan proposes a set of guidelines to help cut carbon pollution from plants and make them more efficient. The EPA estimates that by doing so, electricity bills will be reduced roughly 8% through increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand on the grid.

However, power plants are not solely responsible for high levels of carbon emissions and pollution. Commercial buildings account for 18% of energy consumption and, as with power plants, reduction is the key to unlocking savings and emitting less carbon.

An energy management system (EMS) like GridPoint’s provides visibility into enterprise-wide energy consumption through submetering, monitoring and big data analytics. Our cloud-based platform includes control automation and advanced algorithms to maintain set points and identify new opportunities for savings. While the EPA predictions assume 8% savings, the 12,000 sites that have GridPoint’s EMS systems installed have generated energy savings up to 30%. To date, GridPoint’s lifetime carbon emission reduction is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 200,000 cars.

From power plant to retail stores, the reduction of carbon emissions is needed across the board. Let GridPoint and its energy management systems help your enterprise be part of the solution, not the problem.