How demand flexibility is about to transform electricity delivery
Automated energy efficiency, dubbed ‘flexiwatts,’ could change how we consume energy for good
lar and battery storage are commonly noted as the biggest threats — and opportunities — for the utility business model, but a new report shows that when consumers use their electricity may matter just as much to utilities as if they produce it themselves.
The potential for utility customers to dramatically reduce their energy consumption with less than a $1,000 dollar investment in home energy management devices could put a big dent in utilities’ bottom lines unless they figure out how to leverage the new technologies in a way that benefits both consumers and themselves
“The key to changing the balance of power between utilities and their customers is the customers’ ability to control when and how they use electricity and for that demand flexibility is very important,” explained Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) Principal James Mandel, co-author of the new report “The Economics of Demand Flexibility; How “Flexiwatts” Create Quantifiable Value for Customers and the Grid.”
Flexiwatts come from demand flexibility (DF), which is using “communication and control technology to shift electricity use across hours of the day.”
The premise is to use smart technology to move things like air conditioning, water heating, and electric vehicle charging to times when load is lower and electricity is cheaper. Devices now have the capability to control those functions and can be programmed to know when the lower price periods are.