EPA: Don’t Forget Smart Grid, Demand Response in CO2 Regs

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dan delureyThe Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid applauds the federal EPA for its draft plan for reducing carbon emissions, but wants to see the agency directly spell out the important role of smart grid and demand response in reducing emissions. The EPA didn’t acknowledge the importance of these tools in its plan, says Dan Delurey, executive director of the organization. Industry members need to write the EPA to voice their opinion, he says.

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  1. This was a very strange interview. Dan claimed over and over again that DR & Smart Grid have some benefit for reducing GHG emissions, but never described that benefit. Lisa did not ask for details, and simply quoted Dan’s conclusion back to him.

    So what are the benefits? Smart-grid technology on the distribution system (not necessarily at the customer’s meter) would allow utilities to keep voltages optimized, and reconfigure distribution on the fly to balance loads and reduce line losses. DR might allow utilities to accommodate more wind and solar, by reducing net ramp rates. ANything else?

    But the major purpose of DR, reducing peak demand, would on many systems mostly broaden the peak and reduce the construction of new gas peakers, resulting in more use of old peakers and steam units. To the extent that smart meters encourage customers to shift load from periods when expensive but low-CO2 gas units are on line to periods when cheap, dirty coal is marginal, they would increase emissions. So DR/SG is a mixed bag for climate, at best.

    • Paul – the point I was trying to make is not that any type of DR or Smart Grid technology or practice should be automatically deemed as part of a state plan. I was attempting to show that the EPA does not even acknowledge that DR or Smart Grid should even be on the table.

      A couple of points:

      DR is not just about peak anymore. That is what it used to be. But now DR stands for dynamic optimized efficiency, and that includes behavioral EE, information signals, price signals, smart homes and building, etc. It has been demonstrated that kwh savings – and not just kw savings – are resulting from such activities. The EPA draft rules only discuss end-use efficiency.

      What you say about different emission scenarios is of course true. But that will certainly be considered by a State – and then the EPA – in terms of assembly and approval of a plan. Plant and emission portfolios differ and one cannot make a blanket statement about what is or will be on the margin. It could be emission-free nuclear or night-time wind.

      Next I would make a comment about the peak. The dispatch order for meeting peak is going to put the older, least efficient peakers on line last. These plants will not be given a new lease on life due to DR. I do not know where that is happening.

      Finally, there is something else that I did not mention in the interview that I will bring up here. By including DR and Smart Grid technologies in CO2 plans, we begin to move – after decades – the era of deemed, or stipulate savings that traditional end-use efficiency programs rely on. That is yet another reason to not leave it off the table. More than ever before, the beyond-the-fence-efficiency that is incorporated in meeting these rules has to be measurable and verifiable. It has to be real.