Our Thinking

STAT OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles shatters its record for peak electric demand, twice

  • By Barry Fischer
  • September 19, 2014

Stat of the Week

In the face of sizzling temperatures this week, the City of Angels saw its demand for electricity shoot up toward the heavens.

First, on Tuesday, near-100 degree temperatures meant a big spike in air-conditioning that catapulted LA’s total power draw to 6,196 megawatts – surpassing a previous all-time record of 6,177 megawatts set in September 2010. This level is around double the amount of electric demand experienced during a typical day in LA.

Wednesday took things a step further: in the midst of triple digit temperatures in downtown LA (high of 104°F), the LA Department of Water and Power reported peak power levels of 6,396 megawatts.

To mitigate strain on the grid, utilities in southern California asked their customers to modify their behavior by cutting back on non-critical power demand between 11am and 8pm, recommending steps like turning up the thermostat slightly, postponing loads of laundry and dishes, closing the blinds, and even going to see a movie in an air-conditioned theater. (You can find out America’s most popular summer energy-saving tips here.)

LA isn’t alone in encountering peak demand challenges this month. Recent heat waves and electric power spikes have put utilities in the hot seat from Honolulu to Baltimore.

Situations like these highlight the important potential of customer behavior to shave peak demand, and the related importance of a utility’s ability to drive those behaviors in a customer-friendly way. And today, we’re seeing exactly that in approaches like Behavioral Demand Response — wherein utilities use personalized, timely messages before and after peak demand events to motivate customers to manage their thermostats and appliances wisely when the grid is strained.

BDR

Utilities from Vermont to California are deploying Behavioral Demand Response (BDR) programs on a territory-wide scale and achieving measurable reductions in peak demand. For a recent example, check out the BDR results from Baltimore Gas & Electric’s September 5th Energy Savings Day:

By helping households save energy when it matters most for the grid, utilities like BGE aren’t just solving their peak demand challenges. They’re also reinvigorating the utility-customer relationship in a pretty awesome way.

Have a stat that you think deserves to be our Stat of the Week? Tweet it @Opower. If it’s featured, we’ll give you a shoutout.

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Our Thinking

3 ways a new law in Delaware will bring big benefits to the First State’s energy consumers

  • By Harry Godfrey and Ricky Gratz
  • September 17, 2014

Energy efficiency just received a tremendous boost in Delaware.

Last month, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 150 — which will deepen and broaden Delaware’s commitment to saving energy — into law.

The new law will give First State residents the opportunity to participate in an expanded suite of efficiency initiatives, such as behavioral programs, lighting programs, and appliance rebates. These new programs will help reduce customer utility bills, create local jobs by driving investments in energy efficiency, and lead to substantial environmental and health benefits.

Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Markell, the strong bi-partisan support provided by the Delaware General Assembly, and the vision of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the expansion of such cost-effective energy efficiency programs will soon become a reality. Here are three things the new law will do for Delaware:

1. It will drive customer bill savings

 
In the past, Delaware trailed its neighbors in efficiency investments, ranking 22nd on the ACEEE State Efficiency Scorecard. Now, the First State aims to surge ahead by making energy efficiency its first fuel.

Indeed, there is huge potential for electricity savings and bill savings in the state. Through behavioral energy efficiency alone — which includes giving people personalized, timely feedback on their energy usage, sharing easy-to-understand savings advice, and offering targeted incentives — Delawareans could save more than $8.2 million on their electric bills every year.

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Our Thinking

Opower joins Maryland Governor O’Malley and Baltimore Gas & Electric to celebrate state’s energy innovation

  • By Jake Levine
  • September 15, 2014

Today, Opower joined an action-packed event with Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, as part of the Governor’s “Governing for Results” tour in Maryland.

It was an honor for Opower to participate, not only because we had the opportunity to celebrate the $2 billion in savings catalyzed by BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program, but also because we were able to help share an important story with the people of Maryland: that they’ve played a central role in moving the state toward a more sustainable and secure energy future.

Maryland Event

Opower President Alex Laskey speaks alongside Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and BGE CEO Calvin Butler at an event in Baltimore

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