NC Sustainable Energy Association

Load Management

Generally speaking, load management refers to supply-side management, demand-side management and energy efficiency.   Supply- and demand-side management are activities that are used to supply electricity to customers.  The basic delineation between the two terms is based on which side of the electric meter the activity occurs.  Activities on the electric service provider’s side of the meter are considered supply-side while activities on the customer’s side of the meter are considered demand-side.  While this delineation is simple and clear in theory, in practice the delineation between the two activities is not always so distinct.

Supply-Side Management

The following is a brief discussion of some of the more obvious supply-side management techniques being used to meet North Carolina’s REPS.  The chosen areas are not an exhaustive list.

Fuel Choice and Fuel Substitution

Perhaps the most basic form of supply-side management is a utility’s fuel choice.  To meet the REPS, utilities serving customers in North Carolina have the option to use single-source renewable energy facilities, such as those powered by wind or solar, or use renewable energy resources as a substitute for part of their traditional energy portfolio, such as co-firing biomass resources in conventional power plants.

Voltage Control

Other supply-side resources available to utilities are voltage control and power factor correction measures.  As more distributed generation comes on-line, the issues of voltage control and power factors will increasingly come into play.  These issues are important to utilities, customers, and independent generators because voltage must be maintained within an acceptable range for power system and customer equipment to function properly.  The power factor of the system, and the changes to the system’s power factor caused by new resources connecting to the system, affect the utility’s ability to effectively manage the system’s voltage.

As the electricity grid as a whole becomes more robust through technological advances such as the “smart grid,” voltage control and power factor management will improve.  Utilities in North Carolina are already exploring these options as a means to implement additional demand-side management and energy efficiency programs and incorporate new renewable distributed generation facilities into the system.

In 2009, NCSEA commissioned a white paper from a local engineering consulting firm, Quanta Technologies, which covered the issues of voltage control and the smart grid in more detail.

Demand-Side Management (“DSM”)

In the energy industry, demand-side management (“DSM”) refers to those activities occurring on the customer’s side of the meter that help to manage their energy load.  Traditionally this terminology encompasses programs such as direct load control, interruptible loads, and distributed generation including standby generation and cogeneration.

North Carolina’s definition of DSM as used in the REPS is in keeping with this terminology.  North Carolina’s REPS defines demand-side management as:

"activities, programs, or initiatives undertaken by an electric power supplier or its customers to shift the timing of electricity use from peak to nonpeak demand periods. Demand‑side management includes, but is not limited to, load management, electric system equipment and operating controls, direct load control, and interruptible load." (N.C. Gen. Stat. 62-133.8(a)(2))

While all electric service providers have the option of using DSM programs to manage their system’s demand, only the EMCs and municipalities can use the savings from DSM programs to meet their REPS requirements.  Ostensibly part of the rationale for this distinction is that EMCs and municipalities typically have few of their own generation resources and in large part are wholesale power customers of the investor-owned utilities.  When looked at singularly, the load demand from these providers is much lower in comparison to the native load of the investor-owned utilities’ customer bases.  Thus, allowing these providers to use DSM would not undermine the REPS core purpose of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency (“EE”)

As noted in the REPS discussion, energy efficiency (“EE”) is an eligible resource for electric service providers to use in meeting North Carolina’s REPS.  In some industry settings, the term energy efficiency encompasses energy conservation and efficient energy management to reduce both base load and peak load energy use.  North Carolina’s REPS more strictly defines energy efficiency as:

"an equipment, physical, or program change implemented after January 1, 2007, that results in less energy used to perform the same function.  “Energy efficiency measure” includes, but is not limited to, energy produced from a combined heat and power system that uses nonrenewable energy resources. “Energy efficiency measure” does not include demand‑side management."  (N.C. Gen. Stat. 62-133.8(a)(4))

Some examples of energy efficiency measures being offered by North Carolina’s electric service providers range from appliance turn-in and rebate programs to energy monitoring.  New measures are continuously being offered and checking the individual service providers’ websites is the best way to stay abreast of the offerings.

Pricing Initiatives

Implementing new pricing initiatives is one way that service providers encourage their customers to participate in DSM and EE programs.  While some of these initiatives such as time-of-use and interruptible load rates have been in effect for years, they are being retooled in accordance with the programs to provide more effective incentives.

Over the last few years, NCSEA has done extensive analysis on pricing initiatives.  In 2008, NCSEA provided comments in a Commission proceeding on rate restructuring.  The 2009 white paper that NCSEA commissioned also touched on how the smart grid can be used to develop new pricing schemes to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. 

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