Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings: An Opportunity for Utilities

Utilities.

A new report, “Determining Utility System Value of Demand Flexibility from Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings,” provides information for utilities on how to interact with these facilities to provide power in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. The report is published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with support from State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network, which is facilitated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the report, buildings account for 75% of U.S. electricity consumption and up to 80% of peak demand. Because of these huge demands, buildings also represent the largest opportunity for load flexibility on the grid. The goal, according to the report, is for utilities to properly value this flexibility to fully engage the buildings as energy resources.

Considerations include the value of energy efficiency, demand response and the ability of distributed energy resources (DERs) to generate power, shed and shift load and modulate their electricity demand.

“Demand flexibility—the capability provided by DERs to adjust load profiles across different timescales—can provide significant benefits to the electric utility system through the combination of actions that control or reduce electricity consumption to avoid system costs,” the report said. “Grid-interactive efficient buildings are an important source of demand flexibility.”

The report recommended seven areas that utilities should account for:

  • Electric utility system economic impacts resulting from demand flexibility
  • Variations in value based on when demand flexibility occurs
  • The impact of distribution system savings on transmission and generation system value
  • Variation in value at specific locations on the grid
  • Variations in value due to interactions between DERs providing demand flexibility
  • Benefits across the full expected useful lives of the resources.
  • Variations in value due to interactions between DERs and other system resources.

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