National Grid, AutoGrid bring demand response to the natural gas industry
By Robert Walton
November 22, 2017
- Borrowing an idea from the electric power industry, National Grid and AutoGrid will pilot a natural gas demand response program in New York this winter that aims to lower peak demand and stave off costly system upgrades.
- Using AutoGrid’s cloud-based Flex application, the utility can send automated signals to connected direct load-control devices, cycling enrolled customers’ furnaces, boilers and other gas-fired equipment.
- National Grid says 16 commercial and industrial customers in the New York metropolitan area and on Long Island applied for the program, which pays financial incentives to harness the companies’ demand flexibility.
AutoGrid is no stranger to demand response, which has become an essential tool for managing the nation’s power grid. But according to Greentech Media, this is the first time it has applied those concepts to natural gas demand.
Recently, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners recognized the utility for implementing the demand response program. State utility regulators are “leading and supporting innovative business models that develop new ways to manage a flexible and reliable energy system,” Carlos Nouel, vice president of new energy solutions at National Grid, said in a statement.
AutoGrid’s cloud-based Flex application sends automated signals to direct load-control devices provided by IP Keys, another partner in the project. Those signals can switch enrolled customers’ furnaces, boilers and other natural gas-fired equipment on and off.
Demand response events will be conducted between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. through the winter heating season.
The system and its goals are similar to demand response for electricity. The gas pilot will borrow the software platform and the concept of flexibility management, while maintaining the same goals: lowering peak energy usage, minimizing the need for capacity upgrades, and supporting system reliability.
“The flexibility management technology taps the latent flexibility in gas equipment,” said Amit Narayan, CEO of AutoGrid. The system will allow National Grid to balance gas supply and demand “more efficiently and effectively by turning gas-fired equipment into flexible resources that can be easily ramped up or down in real time and at scale.”