Bay Area utility picks AutoGrid Flex for demand response, distributed energy

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AutoGrid Systems said MCE, a community choice electricity provider servicing about 250,000 customers throughout the Bay Area, has selected the AutoGrid Flex flexibility management software application suite for its pilot demand response program.

Launched on May 31, 2016, MCE’s My Energy Insight, a direct load control DR program, uses the suite’s AutoGrid Demand Response Optimization and Management System (DROMS) to connect to program participants’ smart thermostats and pool pumps via the Energy Internet.

If California Independent System Operator electricity market prices go above a certain threshold, AutoGrid DROMS sends a signal in real-time to participants’ smart thermostats and pool pumps, unobtrusively reducing their energy consumption during peak pricing periods without impacting their comfort.

Customer participation in the program is voluntary and customers can choose to leave the program at any time. Customers that participate in the program receive a free smart thermostat and a gift card.

MCE is using the pilot program to determine if it can use its customers’ smart thermostats, pool pumps, and – in the future – connected water heaters, electric vehicle chargers, energy storage systems and other distributed energy resources (DERs) to reduce energy procurement expenses during times of peak energy demand. MCE will also study whether the program can provide an additional revenue stream to MCE by bidding demand response capacity from the customer-owned DERs into the California ISO market.

In both cases — reducing energy procurement expenses and increasing revenues by bidding capacity into the California ISO market — the program would help MCE provide clean energy to its customers at as low a price as possible. In addition, by delivering free smart thermostats and other incentives to DR program participants, MCE will seek to learn how much the program increases customer engagement and satisfaction with MCE.

“MCE is focused on providing our customers with an affordable clean energy choice that does not compromise service, reliability, or supply,” said Beckie Menten, Director of Customer Programs, MCE. “We are excited to partner with AutoGrid to deploy this innovative DR pilot program, and learn if we can provide further choice to our customers by enabling them to use their smart thermostats, pool pumps and other DERs to lower their energy bills.”

“MCE’s deployment of this DR pilot program using AutoGrid Flex provides further evidence that the energy industry is embracing the Energy Internet as a way to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy to their customers,” said Dr. Amit Narayan, CEO of AutoGrid. “Flexibility management is Energy Internet’s killer app, allowing utilities and energy service providers to lower costs, integrate renewables and drive deeper engagement with their customers.”

AutoGrid Flex is a comprehensive software application suite for flexibility management at the grid edge. AutoGrid Flex enables utilities and energy service providers to predict and control millions of connected DERs across the Energy Internet, allowing them to balance energy supply and demand, increase customer engagement and deliver new value-added services. AutoGrid DROMS is an application within the AutoGrid Flex suite, and is the industry’s only comprehensive, “dispatch-grade” demand response management system (DRMS), unifying all programs and assets, for all customer segments.

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