Active Efficiency in Action

The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.

Demand Response at Portland General Electric

Portland has an aggressive goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2035. Achieving this will require much higher levels of demand response (DR) participation, which is why the Oregon Public Utility Commission directed the city’s utility, Portland General Electric (PGE), to acquire new DR resources.

Aside from helping achieve decarbonization, largescale DR – a byproduct of beneficial electrification – increases the grid’s reliability through adjustments in both supply and demand. But the current system lacks adequate market signals to motivate customers to moderate or shift their energy use. To increase DR participation, PGE is piloting a multi-year Smart Grid Test Bed in three neighborhoods that creates signals through a combination of behavioral economics and technology deployment. PGE has set a target participation rate of at least 66% approximately ten times the national average for similar programs.

PGE is leveraging advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades to make DR a seamless experience for customers. Three substations in the Portland area will be equipped with remote controls and sensors that will allow the utility to receive real-time voltage data and insights. PGE also has plans to deploy a distributed energy resource management software that takes insights and deploys customer resources as a solution to grid challenges. This high degree of automation means that customers’ devices now work in concert with PGE as it operates the grid.

The utility is also experimenting with different program designs to help customers understand their role in shaping the grid, including donating rebates to local nonprofits and framing DR participation in avoided emissions rather than dollars saved. PGE auto-enrolled 16,000 customers – about 70% of its residential customers – into a peak time rebate program where customers can opt-in to participate on an event-by-event basis. PGE has also designated a cohort of community relations managers who engage with test bed customers.