Modern technology reduces load control disruptions - Great River Energy

Modern technology reduces load control disruptions

Homeowners, farmers and commercial/industrial businesses experienced fewer interruptions this spring to the appliances they have enrolled in their cooperative’s demand response programs thanks to grid modernization tools implemented by Great River Energy.

Through the dual fuel load control program, cooperative members can sign up to have their heating systems fueled by a secondary system — such as oil or gas, rather than electricity — during times of peak electricity use. In exchange, members receive a discounted electricity rate and the cooperative is able to reduce wholesale costs. Great River Energy is also able to dispatch these resources to reduce the impacts of high market prices.

Members often associate dual fuel dispatch with extremely cold weather, but that is not always the case.

“Members don’t always understand why we have to control load during shoulder months,” said Ryan Ferguson, senior engineer of metering and SCADA for Lake Country Power, referring to the spring and fall months when temperatures are relatively mild. “This can create dissatisfaction and result in calls to the co-op from members looking for an explanation.”

Great River Energy was able to avoid dispatching demand response resources over the March and April billing peaks because meter data and data analytics have improved to the point that the cooperative was able to replicate the effects of demand response without dispatching member resources, reducing inconvenience to members.

“Previously, we dispatched dual fuel as part of our contractual obligations, which can be confusing for members during months when temperatures are not extreme. By using data and technology, we are able to continue saving members money without dispatching a program or potentially inconveniencing the membership.”

— Nate Grahl, distributed energy resource data intelligence lead at Great River Energy

Grahl noted if Great River Energy didn’t control, members would need to be issued credits, which can be confusing and cumbersome.

Grahl said technology investments and collaboration among Great River Energy and its member cooperatives made this possible. He said member-owners shared data from their advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) on Great River Energy’s meter data management system domain. Great River Energy was able to use a large sample of member-owner AMI data associated with dual fuel program usage to predict available demand response for this program for any hour of the day and across any temperature condition.

“We created a new credit matrix that allows Great River Energy to utilize the flexibility of our distributed energy demand response programs to reduce costs, promote reliability and promote a positive member experience,” Grahl said.

“This allowed for a modern-day approach to the credit mechanism,” Ferguson added.

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