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​BPA's Demonstration Projects

Making a business case for DR as a resource

Over the past decade, BPA has collaborated on an array of regional pilots and demonstrations to test the business case for demand response as a cost-effective resource to manage spikes of energy consumption during periods of peak demand, increasing reliability and reducing stress on the power system.

The coordinated decrease or increase in power consumption under demand response can provide substantial flexibility and support the overall efficiency of the power system. That means demand response can serve as a cost-effective alternative to building new generation or transmission infrastructure, resulting in savings for ratepayers. 

Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project

From 2009 to 2015, BPA was a major participant in the $178 million Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The largest such project in the country included 11 utilities, five infrastructure partners, two universities, and 60,000 metered customers in five states. The demonstrations involved 112 megawatts of power flows from a wide range of responsive resources.

BPA’s central role was to develop a business case to determine which technologies showed the highest potential value for BPA, utilities and the region. The 2015 report commissioned by BPA found the benefits of demand-response investments and practices would significantly exceed costs in the Northwest. 

BPA launches commercial-scale DR demonstrations

In 2013, BPA embarked on a four-year journey to test demand response on a commercial scale. These large, 30- to 60-megawatt demonstration projects focused on developing and testing contract models, gathering data on reliability of aggregated portfolios, integrating DR products into daily operations, evaluating DR management systems, defining measurement and verification strategies, and testing acquisition models – utility, private and public aggregation. Major partners included the City of Port Angeles (industrial load); Energy Northwest and EnerNOC (aggregated DR).

At the end of 2018, Bonneville and its partners shared final reports on the demonstration projects, which achieved 140 megawatts of controllable demand response. Two examples:

Pacific NW Aggregated Demand Response Commercial Demonstration Project

This large-scale pilot, led by BPA and Energy Northwest, provided up to 35 megawatts of demand response from resources in the state of Washington served by the City of Richland, Cowlitz County PUD and Pend Oreille County PUD. The resources included two pulp and paper mills – the NORPAC mill in Longview and Ponderay Newsprint in Usk –  along with demand-voltage reduction at Richland’s substations and, Powin Energy’s battery energy-storage system.

During the 12-month pilot, BPA signaled 85 curtailments, which meant each    facility or asset had to reduce its energy consumption within 10 minutes and sustain it for up to 90 minutes. The trial finished with a 94 percent success rate. The Peak Load Management Alliance honored the project as one of 2015’s top achievements in the nation.

Summer 2017 Demand-Response Demonstration Project

This 36-megawatt project led by BPA and Energy Northwest marked the last commercial-scale aggregation project of the four-year effort. The participants spanned two states, with the City of Richland, Cowlitz PUD No. 1, and Ferry County PUD in Washington; and Columbia River PUD, Eugene Water & Electric Board, and the City of Milton-Freewater in Oregon.

During four months of demonstrations in the summer of 2017, the aggregated DR portfolio performed highly successfully. Given 30 minutes of digital notice, the DR resources delivered 100 percent or more of the planned reduction in power usage  (referred to as load shed) in each of 40 hour-long tests.

South of Allston Bilateral Redispatch Pilot

In May 2017, BPA announced its decision not to build a proposed 500-kilovolt line to relieve transmission congestion along the I-5 corridor, south of the Allston Substation, near Longview, Washington. Bonneville plans to use other methods to maintain reliability, including developing a non-wires portfolio of demand response and generation. A two-year pilot is testing third-party capacity to provide more than 100 megawatts of congestion relief for the transmission system during summer periods of peak energy demand.

Residential DR moves ahead  

To assess the potential of DR-enabled water heaters, BPA and Portland General Electric are leading a regionwide pilot with eight Northwest utilities, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and two national manufacturers. The pilot evaluates the effectiveness of a modular communication port (CTA 2045) in electric resistance and heat-pump water heaters in more than 250 households. Results will inform a business case intended to influence manufacturers to add the communication capability to products.

Lessons learned from BPA’s demonstrations

  • For BPA, utilities are key partners; they serve the load and are impacted by adjustments.
  • DR has flexibility to address multiple BPA needs.

  • Certain loads have proven to be cost effective, available, predictable and reliable.

  • Technology to control end-use loads generally works well, but requires significant testing and integration work.

  • Residential DR should not be underestimated given the amount of residential load – 70 percent of the total ­­– in BPA’s territory.

What’s next?

  • Demand-response measures that prove reliable and cost effective will be evaluated for deployment in day-to-day operations and for recommendation to utilities.
  • Possible programs for smart thermostats, dispatchable voltage reduction and commercial air conditioning.
  • Possible program for BPA Power Services based on capacity needs identified in the 2018 Resource Program.
  • Possible non-wires DR in selected areas.
  • Building a DR valuation model and evaluating utility-scale battery storage.
  • Possible planning for rollout of commercial demand response.