PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2021

COVID-19 Response

Demand Response

PG&E’s demand response programs enable customers to reduce energy use during periods of peak demand, which provides grid stability, lowers costs for customers and realizes greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The extreme heat events of the last year have underscored the critical importance of demand response as a strategy to conserve electricity and shift demand during extreme weather conditions.

Our Approach

PG&E’s demand response options are supported by SmartMeter™ technology, which helps customers better understand their energy usage and lower their energy costs. Our programs also help avoid the need for additional power plants that would only be called on for short periods throughout the year on days when demand is highest.

Approximately 160,000 residential customers participate in the programs we offer, along with more than 100,000 larger commercial and industrial customers. Programs for homes and businesses include:

Program Description 2020 Results
SmartRate Gives residential customers a discount on regular summer electricity rates in exchange for higher prices during 9 to 15 SmartDays per year, typically occurring on the hottest days of the summer. Approximately 65,000 customers participated in SmartRate and provided an average load reduction of nearly 12 megawatts (MW) per event day.
SmartAC Allows PG&E to send a signal to a PG&E-provided device on a customer’s air conditioner, cycling the air conditioner to use less energy. The program is offered May through October. Approximately 90,000 participants provided about 40 MW of potential load reduction, which was bid into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) wholesale market as a Proxy Demand Resource but can also be called on for emergencies and near-emergency purposes by the CAISO or PG&E’s grid and system operators.
Peak Day Pricing Gives non-residential customers a discount on regular summer electricity rates in exchange for higher prices during 9 to 15 Peak Pricing Event Days per year, typically occurring on the hottest days of the summer. More than 103,000 customers participated in Peak Day Pricing and provided an average load reduction of 16 MW per event day.
Capacity Bidding Program Works with third-party demand response companies that aggregate residential and non-residential customers. These aggregators—and, by extension, the customers in their portfolios—act as “virtual power plants” and receive payments from PG&E in exchange for reducing load on peak usage days. Approximately 1,600 active service accounts provided a peak of about 43 MW of potential load reduction, which was bid into the CAISO wholesale market as an economic Proxy Demand Resource between May and October.
Base Interruptible Program Enables participating customers—typically large customers—to receive financial incentives in exchange for their commitment to reduce energy usage during emergencies in response to requests from PG&E, which helps ensure grid reliability. PG&E attained a load reduction potential of about 200 MW, which was bid into the CAISO wholesale market Reliability Demand Response Resource product year-round to respond to grid emergencies.
Automated Demand Response (AutoDR) Provides rebates for residential demand-reducing smart thermostats and provides funding for demand-reducing equipment for non-residential customers where the equipment is capable of receiving a signal from PG&E to initiate a series of automatic, customer-defined and pre-authorized actions during demand response events. PG&E provided incentives to four customers totaling 2.7 MW of new load shed committed.

2020 Milestones

In 2020, we leveraged our programs on numerous occasions to reduce demand and ensure reliable electric service for customers.

Most notably, PG&E’s customers played an instrumental role through their participation in demand response programs during a historic heat storm that impacted the western U.S. for several consecutive days in August of 2020. Energy supply shortages led to two rotating power outages in the CAISO footprint. During the event, both residential and business customers participated in multiple demand response programs, helping to reduce energy demand by about 220 MW.

Measuring Progress

Through our demand response programs, PG&E and our customers had the ability to provide up to 315 MW of load reduction in 2020—about the capacity of a large conventional power plant.