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Australia’s United Energy Saw a 30% Peak Load Shift Without Hardware – Here’s How

United Energy (UE) is a leading utility company that owns, operates, and maintains a distribution network supplying energy to more than 640,000 customers in its service territory. During the summer months, they sought to reduce peak load among their residential customers but identifying cost-effective, scalable Demand Response methods to manage these events have proven challenging. UE have previously conducted trials with residential Demand Response programs where customers were notified by email and SMS of peak event times and rewarded for lowering energy use during the event times.

They sought an automated residential Demand Response solution that would provide the required peak-load shifting to avoid costly energy spikes, be scalable and cost-effective to implement.

The HomeBeat Solution – ActionDR

After evaluating a number of solutions, UE selected Bidgely’s HomeBeat app with its Demand Response function for the 2015/16 Summer Trial. HomeBeat leverages the Bidgely insights platform to analyze both home-area-network (HAN) and AMI smart meter data streams to disaggregate and identify usage patterns for specific appliances.

Specific to Demand Response, UE utilized the HomeBeat ActionDR solution, an engaging in-app function that communicates all DR event messages via mobile push and email notifications. The ActionDR solution employed key capabilities that leverage Bidgely’s mobile engagement platform:

  • Gamification  – Based on historic home energy use data, each home was provided with an individualized energy use goal for the peak event period
  • Real-Time Feedback – For homes equipped with high-resolution HAN devices, ActionDR provided real-time updates on how well the consumer was meeting their energy use goal
  • Performance-based Incentives – For homes equipped with high-resolution HAN devices, ActionDR showed the reward/incentive received as the consumer met each hour of their energy use goal, thereby keeping them engaged and motivated.

ActionDR_How-It-Works

 

Results

UE held four events during the 2015/16 Summer season, targeting peak usage from 4:00 pm-7:00 pm. The trial achieved an average peak load shift of >30% per user per event.

ActionDR Peak Shift

ActionDR_Peak_Shift

The above chart shows a peak shift event with ActionDR. The green arrow outlines the peak usage shift during event #2 – showing a reduction of about 30%. The orange arrow points out how effective ActionDR is at communicating an event to end-users. There is a clear break in trend right when the event occurs.

ActionDR Consumer Behavior – Focus on Air Conditioning

ActionDR_User Reaction1

ActionDR Consumer Behavior – Leave Home

ActionDR User Reaction2

 

Conclusion

United Energy is an example of a forward-thinking utility that wasn’t satisfied with the traditional Demand Response methods they had tried. Recognizing the opportunity for improvement, they decided to supplement their existing DR trial program with a new approach, and chose Bidgely as their partner. By utilizing the HomeBeat app and ActionDR solution, UE was able to leverage appliance disaggregation, gamification, and timely notifications to engage their customers around key peak-load shifting events, while improving customer engagement and satisfaction.