Reinventing Residential Demand Response, Breaking Through Barriers with Gamification and Devices
March 17, 2021
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
Matt Duesterberg, Lillian Mirviss
OhmConnect is a residential demand-response software platform that pays utility customers to reduce their energy use when the electric grid is stressed. During each #OhmHour, users respond by making behavioral changes as well as taking automated actions by connecting their smart devices to the OhmConnect platform. OhmConnect established that a market could be cultivated for residential demand-response programs and advanced energy products for the wholesale market. OhmConnect leveraged its existing platform to engage residential utility customers and encourage them to save energy during demand response events, proving that proactive customers will reduce their electric use during times of peak demand on California’s electric grid.
To achieve the goals of this project, OhmConnect examined three aspects of residential demand response — users, yield, and supply — through experiments in customer acquisition, demand response participation incentives, and low-cost telemetry. OhmConnect updated its platform to better engage residential utility customers in demand response and, pairing those updates with direct marketing methods, OhmConnect acquired more than 31,000 users for this project. This project concluded that monetary incentives yielded stronger reductions during #OhmHours than environmental messaging. Lastly, OhmConnect developed a low-cost telemetry solution in user homes that utilized historical smart meter data and real-time energy consumption data from energy-efficient smart devices.
While significant progress was made in facilitating residential demand-response market opportunities over the course of this project, additional barriers remain that prevent full integration of residential demand response into the state’s electric grid. This report discusses those barriers, which include market uncertainty, data inaccessibility, competitive asymmetries, and customer retail energy options, all of which impede residential demand response providers’ abilities to market their demand-response reductions to the California Independent System Operator and participate in the wholesale energy market.