Findings from the 2004 Fully Automated Demand Response Tests in Large Facilities

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This report describes the results of the second season of research to develop and evaluate the performance of new Automated Demand Response (Auto-DR) hardware and software technology in large facilities. Demand Response (DR) is a set of time dependent activities that reduce or shift electricity use to improve electric grid reliability, manage electricity costs, and provide systems that encourage load shifting or shedding during times when the electric grid is near its capacity or electric prices are high. Demand Response is a subset of demand side management, which also includes energy efficiency and conservation. The overall goal of this research project was to support increased penetration of DR in large facilities through the use of automation and better understanding of DR technologies and strategies in large facilities. To achieve this goal, a set of field tests were designed and conducted. These tests examined the performance of Auto-DR systems that covered a diverse set of building systems, ownership and management structures, climate zones, weather patterns, and control and communication configurations.

Electric load shedding that is often part of a DR strategy can be achieved by modifying end-use loads. Examples of load shedding include reducing electric loads such as dimming or turning off non-critical lights, changing comfort thermostat set points, or turning off non-critical equipment. Levels of automation in DR can be defined as follows. Manual Demand Response involves a labor-intensive approach such as manually turning off or changing comfort set points at each equipment switch or controller. Semi-Automated Demand Response involves a pre-programmed load shedding strategy initiated by a person via centralized control system. Fully-Automated Demand Response does not involve human intervention, but is initiated at a home, building, or facility through receipt of an external communications signal. The receipt of the external signal initiates pre-programmed shedding strategies. We refer to this as Auto-DR. One important concept in Auto-DR is that a homeowner or facility manager should be able to "opt out" or "override" a DR event if the event comes at time when the reduction in enduse services is not desirable.

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