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Pepco Holdings Inc. approaches 400 MW under control, 370,000 customers for demand response

By: Jay Demarest |

Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving about two million customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New Jersey. Our subsidiaries provide key services: Pepco, Delmarva Power, and Atlantic City Electric (regulated electricity); Delmarva Power (natural gas); and Pepco Energy Services (energy efficiency and renewable energy).

As a regulated transmission & distribution company, our business strategy focuses on upgrading infrastructure, building a smarter grid, and enhancing the customer experience as a means to achieve its shareholder and environmental sustainability goals. PHI has a long tradition of being among the best of U.S. electric utilities. In 2010, PHI was ranked as one of the top three in Newsweek’s “Greenest Big Companies.” In 2011, Pepco Holdings Inc. was named one of the top six by the Carbon Disclosure Project. In February 2014, PHI won the POWERGRID International “Project of the Year” award for its direct load control program, Energy Wise Rewards. In March 2014, Energy Central named PHI “Energy Company of the Year.”

Operating across multiple jurisdictions (DE, DC, MD, and NJ) poses unique challenges. In Maryland, electric utilities are required to achieve specified peak-demand goals and a 15% reduction in electric energy demand by 2015. Other reduction goals: New Jersey: 20% by 2020, and the District of Columbia: 15% by 2015.

To meet these initiatives, we outlined aggressive energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) programs. One was Energy Wise Rewards with the deployment of state-of-the-art advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters, driving high levels of customer participation in DR programs such as the recently launched Peak Energy Savings Credit.

Challenging energy-reduction goals

There are many challenges in launching multiple programs on a compressed schedule to meet state-specific goals:

  • Driving a variety of demand-side management (DSM) programs with limited internal staff
  • Developing solutions to address communication with non-AMI devices
  • Achieving state-specific goals, such as Maryland’s greater than 50% program participation rate
  • Ramping an implementation team capable of fast-tracking nearly 350,000 devices
  • Recruiting participants without the advantage of an existing program
  • Creating effective marketing campaigns to enroll and retain program participants

Solution

For implementation options, we selected Comverge, a leading provider of intelligent energy management solutions for residential and C&I customers, based on its capabilities:

  • Executing a broader vision by bundling energy-saving products
  • Explaining the energy-saving products bundle to our customers face-to-face at their facilities and homes
  • Cross-selling our other energy-saving products at no added charge to PHI
  • Automating and tracking all major elements of our program via IntelliSOURCE demand response software platform
  • Leveraging its program recruitment offering (IntelliMARKET) with extensive experience with DR, dynamic pricing, and EE program management and marketing
  • Meeting regulatory reporting requirements
  • Using its fulfillment experience and flexibility to ramp resources as needed

Under the expanded relationship, PHI and Comverge share various responsibilities. We provide oversight and guidance for the overall program and work with Comverge to develop tactics to meet regulatory goals. With its experienced program management, marketing, technical, commercial, engineering, IT, and customer support professionals, Comverge is responsible for virtually all of the program implementation. This includes development and execution of marketing tactics along with creation of collateral materials to increase participation levels.

Comverge is responsible for administering and managing the enrollment process along with the integration of participant information with our customer and billing systems. On the post-sales side, Comverge’s staff undertakes all control device fulfillment, maintenance, and repairs, in addition to operating the call center to field customer questions.

As of March 2014, the collaboration with Comverge successfully deployed more than 306,000 intelligent energy management devices, including Comverge smart thermostats and control switches. For more goals and results, see Figure 1 below.

PEPCO FIGURE CROP

Our Energy Wise Rewards program reflects our commitment to reduce energy consumption in all of our markets. We look to Comverge to expand this program to give us even more flexibility managing peak-energy demand. In addition, Comverge’s IntelliSOURCE demand response platform provides us with the insight and control we need to optimize load control events and ensure we have capacity available when needed.

Recently, we decided to expand our existing agreement and make Comverge our implementation vendor for the Delaware market. The expanded agreement will see the Comverge platform supporting approximately 370,500 customer endpoints. Comverge will also help expand the Energy Wise Rewards program to new markets by providing end-to-end program support for additional participants.

Results

Partnering since 2009, PHI and Comverge have achieved significant successes. Highlights include:

  • Hitting 300 MW load reduction and counting
  • Receiving PJM revenue for capacity
  • Opening eight different markets in all five PHI jurisdictions
  • Installed 306,000 control devices and counting
  • Launched both commercial and master meter programs in Maryland
  • Hit a 40% customer/program penetration among eligible households in the Pepco Maryland jurisdiction
  • Received 2012 Platts Global Energy “Award of Excellence”
  • Earned 2014 “Project of the Year” from POWERGRID International
  • Named “Energy Company of the Year” by Energy Central in March 2014

Looking forward, we expect our expanded relationship will lead to additional benefits for PHI, including increasing load reduction through growing participation rates in Energy Wise Rewards (energywiserewards.pepco.com) and Peak Energy Savings Credit, facilitating AMI-enabled dynamic pricing programs, and incorporating more appliances into DR programs.

Jay Demarest is PHI customer relations and programs director.

About Comverge

Comverge delivers a comprehensive suite of intelligent energy management solutions that enable utilities, grid operators, and C&I organizations to optimize their energy usage in order to reduce costs, meet regulatory requirements, and support sustainability initiatives.

With 30 years of experience helping customers implement innovative demand-side management programs, Comverge has deployed more than five and a half million energy management devices, recruited over one million residential customers into mass market demand response programs, and served thousands of C&I customers.