Ifty Hasan 2016-01-08 17:46:54
For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that want to maximize their energy savings, it pays to know when, during the course of the business day, energy prices will be at their highest, because reducing consumption at those critical times during the day makes the greatest impact on saving money on energy. This is called peak management, and with Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) 2.0, the technology is now available to enable all types of SMBs to create a successful automated peak demand energy management program. OpenADR builds on decades-old demand response (DR) programs originally offered by utilities to their large and primarily commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. Demand response is one way utilities have attempted to reduce energy consumption at times of peak demand—when usage comes dangerously close to the total amount of electricity a utility can produce. Utilities would get voluntary commitments from their largest customers to reduce their energy usage either voluntarily, by contractual obligation, or through select incentive programs. Traditionally, demand response would involve a utility calling customers enrolled in their program by phone to make an energy reduction request, and those customers who could reduce their energy would do so. Historically, demand response programs were a very time-consuming and manual process, which is one of the main reasons why utilities focused these programs on just a handful of their largest users. It’s also the reason why traditional demand response has not been a viable solution for the more than two million SMBs throughout the US, including the food service, health care, retail, and service businesses that are consuming a significant amount of energy per square foot, often the result of inefficient appliances and systems. These SMBs waste a significant amount of energy and have relatively high energy bills, but it’s not feasible for the utility to proactively call them. OpenADR was created to provide automated demand response technology for SMBs. The OpenADR specification includes a dedicated set of communication protocols that provide a two-way data flow between the utility provider and their business customers, allowing utilities to send signals about electricity price, and system grid reliability and availability directly to customers over networks such as the Internet. But OpenADR 2.0 also provides these businesses with real-time data on when their energy rates are at their daily peak so that these businesses can automatically, through an energy management system (EMS), or manually, reduce their energy usage. Although OpenADR 2.0 provides the data that is required for peak management programs for SMBs, complete program execution requires a dedicated staff trained in energy management, with the ability to respond quickly to the price fluctuations. For many businesses, the requirement of allocating dedicated internal resources to manage energy is a difficult hurdle. A new class of service is emerging that provides this level of expertise along with the EMS needed in a facility. Dubbed energy management as a service (EMaaS), these new capabilities have emerged as a solution to help SMBs leverage the cloud, wireless networks, and data analytics to benefit greatly from peak management—without hiring additional internal resources or staff to administer and support. Businesses are growing more comfortable with cloud-based services, with some 90% of businesses now utilizing the “cloud” and software as a service (SaaS) solutions for day-to-day business operations such as bill payment, work order management, and facility maintenance services, to name a few. EMaaS builds on the SaaS business model by combining data from a facility’s EMS with a dedicated support team that proactively monitors all of the facility energy data including the data from utilities on peak energy pricing. With EMaaS-based peak management, a business owner and/or their facility team can effectively optimize their ongoing systems to reduce their energy costs by eliminating energy waste in addition to initiating peak management programs for added energy savings. Energy management provides an easy cost savings for most businesses. Lighting, heating, and air conditioning and other equipment can typically be optimized to reduce usage and cost. In addition to the bottom line benefit of these changes, energy management also results in a positive impact on the environment and can be turned into a message that resonates with customers. Peak management leverages energy management combined with Open ADR technology to significantly maximize energy savings. Ifty Hasan is a cofounder of EnTouch Controls and serves as CTO and contributing member to the OpenADR Alliance.
Published by Forester Media. View All Articles.