The Nevada utility NV Energy plans to roll out one of the first demand-response programs in the U.S. that will use home energy gadgets and smart thermostats in consumers’ homes, reports Smart Grid News. NV Energy will be providing its customers with a home energy dashboard from Control4 and a programmable thermostat, and the utility has more than 50,000 customers enrolled, with another 50,000 to be signed up down the road.
Demand response is when utility customers automatically or manually turn down power loads in exchange for a financial incentive (or other incentive), helping the utility manage the grid during peak energy use times. These types of programs usually happen with factories, offices and commercial buildings, but consumer-focused demand response has long been under development. NV Energy told Smart Grid News that it has 115 MW under load control and wants to add an additional 150 MW.
NV Energy will use the home energy gadgets and smart thermostats to turn down the thermostats slightly during certain hours when the home owner approves it. Smart Grid News says that NV Energy is providing customers with 15-minute interval energy consumption data and full control over how they want to participate in the program.
Earlier this week utility PG&E announced that it will start a very small trial in March 2012 with home energy dashboards from Control4 and software services from Silver Spring Networks for about 500 customers. PG&E will then expand that trial to 5,000 and if all goes as planned to the rest of its user base. However, PG&E didn’t highlight any plans for demand response via its home energy dashboard trial.
It will be interesting to see how successful different utilities are in enticing consumers to participate in demand-response programs with home energy devices. How willing customers are to participate will likely reflect on how well the utility has managed its customer service and brand over the years (not necessarily something regulated utilities are good at).