Demand Response

Manson-Dutra Company JV, currently engaged in the largest wetlands restoration project in the United States, was one of our original PeakChoice program members. Manson-Dutra adjusted the schedule for its massive pumping operations during a 2009 demand response event day to respond with over 5 MW of peak-hour load reduction.
While energy efficiency programs result in permanent reductions in energy usage, PG&E’s demand response programs provide incentives for customers to temporarily reduce or shift their energy use on days when demand for energy is at its highest.

Occasional heat waves and storms, plus the periodic need for unscheduled power plant or transmission line repairs and maintenance, can temporarily strain California’s electrical supply. When demand is high and supply is constrained, especially on hot summer days, there is an increased risk of power interruptions for customers.

For years, PG&E’s customer demand response programs have provided a fiscally and environmentally responsible way to respond to these spikes in electric demand, avoiding the need to build and maintain additional power plants that would only be needed for relatively few hours during the year. PG&E’s programs offer incentives to customers who volunteer to temporarily reduce their electricity use when demand could outpace supply.


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Program Results more...

PG&E offers a dozen different customer demand response programs. The programs vary based on how much electricity a customer can reduce and how quickly they can respond to requests to reduce energy use, among other factors. Customers select the options that work best for them.

Overall, PG&E's demand response programs delivered more than 500 MW of load reduction in 2009, exceeding our target by about 100 MW. PG&E expects its demand response capability to grow by more than 250 MW by 2011.

PG&E's demand response programs have traditionally targeted large industrial, commercial and agricultural customers. In an effort to expand customer participation, we launched the PeakChoice™ program in 2008, which encourages medium to large commercial, industrial and agricultural customers to select from a menu of demand response options to customize a program that best fits their business needs. Nearly 200 customers enrolled in the program by the end of 2009, delivering a potential load reduction of 15 MW.

We have also significantly expanded opportunities for residential and small business customers to voluntarily participate in demand response:

  1. SmartRate™, available to residential customers with SmartMeter™ technology, offers customers a chance to save money by conserving power during up to 15 SmartDays each summer, when energy may be in short supply. Currently, 25,000 residential customers are actively enrolled and can supply 10 MW of load reduction. We anticipate approximately 10,000 new customer enrollments in 2010.
  2. SmartAC™ enables residential and small business customers to participate in demand response by receiving a free thermostat or switch that allows PG&E to slightly reduce the amount of electricity an air conditioner uses in the event of an energy supply emergency. Because it is automatic and the adjustments are subtle and temporary, most customers do not even notice when their air conditioner is adjusted. Customers receive a modest initial incentive for participating. While adjusting any one air conditioner may not make a significant difference, the combined efforts of 120,000 enrolled customers can reduce electric demand by 130 MW.