Three Opportunities to Support a Smarter Grid 

Terms like “demand response,” “peak demand,” and “smart technologies” are growing more commonplace, but you may have some questions about how these concepts relate and their importance in creating a cleaner, more resilient energy system. In the past year, the Compact has rolled out several demand response programs designed to do exactly that: establish a more sustainable, affordable energy system. In this blog, we’ll explain the terms mentioned above, plus provide an overview of our three demand response programs designed to create a win-win for our residential and business customers and the grid.  

Understanding Demand Response  

Demand response programs focus on motivating customers to shift or reduce their energy use during times when a region’s energy demand is high. While energy use ebbs and flows throughout the day and across the year, the times of highest usage are referred to as times of “peak demand”. In New England, the highest energy demand occurs during the summer heat when customers increasingly rely on cooling systems to maintain indoor comfort.  

By participating in a demand response program, you can help shift energy use from these times of peak usage. For example, suppose it’s a sweltering summer day on the Cape and Vineyard and many households are cranking up their air conditioning to beat the afternoon heat. To help the Grid you can enroll your thermostat in our ConnectedSolutions program. In advance of a peak demand event, your thermostat will be lowered to “pre-cool” your home. Then, during the event, your thermostat temperature setting will be increased four degrees from its original setting to reduce the amount of electricity your AC is drawing.  

Reducing these surges in demand plays a key role in establishing a more reliable, affordable energy system. This behavior decreases both the need to build additional transmission infrastructure and the need to draw power from supplementary generation sources, which are often powered by fossil fuels and are more expensive to operate. In turn, this change also helps keep electricity costs down by lowering infrastructure and energy costs for all ratepayers. These shifts also make it easier to rely on renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, that are not designed to provide surge support as easily because of their intermittent supply.  

Ways to Participate  

The Compact is excited to now offer both its residential and business customers multiple ways to participate in demand response. We currently offer three programs, each of which is part of our ConnectedSolutions offerings.   

Enroll My Thermostat: Residential customers who have a central air conditioning system connected to a smart thermostat can receive Amazon e-gift cards for allowing the Compact to make slight adjustments to their thermostat setpoint during times of high electricity demand. From June 1 through September 30, customers can sign up to permit the Compact to turn up their thermostat several degrees during “demand response events”, which the Compact will call a couple hours before energy use is predicted to spike in the summer. Customers always retain control of their thermostats, meaning they can override the adjustments and opt out of an event, if desired. Customers will receive a $25 Amazon e-gift card for each smart thermostat they enroll, plus an additional $20 Amazon e-gift card per thermostat for each year where they participate in at least 25% of events. If you don’t already own a smart thermostat or central air conditioning system but are considering an upgrade to your cooling system, be sure to check out our incentives for both technologies.  

Enroll My Battery: Residential customers now have a second option for participating in demand response. Customers who have a qualifying battery storage system installed at their home can receive incentives for allowing the Compact to draw stored energy from the battery during times of peak demand. The Compact will call peak demand events during both summer (June 1 through September 30) and winter (December 1 through March 31), and incentives will be in proportion to the average kW of power drawn from the battery during each season.  

Commercial ConnectedSolutions: Our demand response offerings aren’t only for residential customers! Businesses are also eligible for incentives by reducing their energy use during the summer and winter seasons. The Compact calculates incentives based on the average kW of power reduced across all peak demand events in a given season and the type of technology used to achieve that reduction. Businesses have the option of automated or manual reductions in energy drawn from the grid (referred to as “curtailment”) based on alerts received in advance of demand response events. Businesses can choose to decrease their energy consumption and/or draw upon battery storage to achieve this curtailment. The Compact can connect customers with curtailment service providers (CSP) to help determine the optimal solution.  

As Massachusetts accelerates its progress toward strategic electrification and net zero emissions, demand response programs will play an increasingly important role in helping shape our electric grid. The Compact is excited to work with an increasing number of participants in our demand response programs, designed to deliver incentives to our customers, enhance the resiliency of our communities, and better the environment.