Scenario planning new utility tariff peaks

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Utility tariffs have changed. Has your demand management strategy?

For many commercial buildings, demand charges make up over half of electricity costs, particularly during hot summer months when cooling load is high. Those costs have climbed over the years, and they will continue to climb.

Despite the huge role these charges play in driving energy costs, they have traditionally been very difficult to manage. Reducing energy use is a fairly straightforward task. Reducing demand, on the other hand, requires extreme vigilance around the timing of energy-intensive tasks.

Gridium’s software offers a big leg up on this task by forecasting demand peaks. We track your billing cycle dates, historical energy use, and the local weather forecast to warn you about the periods when you are most likely to hit a peak for the month. These are the periods when demand management pays off.

The big shift

Demand management got both more confusing and potentially more rewarding this past year when many utilities shifted their rate structures to reflect changing patterns of grid-level load. Due to the shift, the most expensive period for electricity use and demand moved from the afternoon to the evening.

The good news here is that for most commercial buildings, the highest electricity rates now apply mostly outside of normal operating hours. It is potentially much easier to curtail demand when there aren’t occupants in the building who might be affected by changes to equipment schedules.

The difficulty remains detecting these opportunities. Utility tariffs are extremely complex, and they interact with building operational patterns in ways that are hard to predict. Many buildings incur three or more demand charges in a single billing cycle, based on demand during different periods of the day and of the week.

New world, new opportunities

We have been working hard to solve the problems posed by these new utility tariffs, and we are pleased to introduce our updated demand forecast and curtailment recommendations:

Gridium new peak demand forecast and curtailment recommendations

In the past, we simply warned you about the days on which you were most likely to set a demand peak, because we made the (mostly correct) assumption that you really only needed to worry about your afternoon demand. Now, we forecast each of your demand charges independently and provide highly precise guidance about the potential savings available at different points in the day.

The results give you a great deal of flexibility in crafting a demand management strategy. Perhaps curtailment simply isn’t an option during peak operating hours, because of tenant needs. Or perhaps peak operating hours offer the best opportunity for curtailment, because that’s when your building has the most discretionary load.

Whatever the case in your particular building, the updated demand forecast gives you stunningly precise insight into the drivers of your demand charges, based on your utility tariff and your operating patterns.

Take a look at the updated demand forecast. We’d love to know how you plan to use it to lower your energy costs, or if scoping a retrofit project might help.

About Adam Stein

Adam runs the product team at Gridium. Formerly he co-founded TerraPass, and before that worked at Tellme and Trilogy. He has an MBA from Wharton and a BS from Stanford, neither of which impress his young daughter.

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