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Greentech Media: How Demand-Side Management is Evolving Under the Long COVID-19 Emergency

Posted by Jeff St. John on Jun 4, 2020

GTM Squared covered the state of demand-side management during the covid-19 pandemic, quoting AEE's Lisa Frantzis. Read excerpts below and the entire GTM2 piece here (sub. req.). 

Of all the U.S. clean energy industries, demand-side management — the utility term of art for energy efficiency and other programs that manage energy use behind the customer's meter — has been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. More than two-thirds of the nearly 600,000 U.S. clean energy jobs lost in March and April were in the energy efficiency sector, according to BW Research. Most of those job losses came at the small businesses that do about 80 percent of the country’s efficiency work, but they’ve also struck nationwide efficiency contractors and utility program administrators...

Energy demand peaks in the summertime as homes and businesses crank up the air conditioning. Those loads could be even heavier than normal this summer with so many people stuck at home.  Analysis from utility efficiency services provider Uplight found that, for two unnamed U.S. utilities, average residential loads increased by more than 20 percent and 30 percent in April, respectively, normalizing for weather. And “that was before cooling season” truly kicked in, said Indy Ratnathicam, vice president of marketing. “If they were maxed before, what are they looking like going into the summer?” 

Similar analysis from Oracle’s Opower looking at loads before and after shelter-in-place orders found that residential daytime use increased by roughly 30 percent for at least one Western utility, said Paul McDonald, senior director of industry strategy. “More than one-third of their customers started getting bills that were at least 50 percent higher than usual for that time period.”  

Utilities need to provide customers with energy-saving tips and tools to prepare for this summer, said Lisa Frantzis, head of the utility advisory committee for trade group Advanced Energy Economy. “There are a lot of things that can be done once you engage the customer,” from virtual efficiency audits to offers to enroll them in demand-response or rate-relief programs...

Read the entire GTM2 piece here (sub. req.). 

Topics: AEE In The News