A Deeper Look: Orchestrated Energy & Time of Use Optimizations

By Mike Weadley on

Father and son in kitchen

While historically Uplight’s Orchestrated Energy clients have been focused on summer demand response (DR) programs, we’re increasingly seeing Time of Use (TOU) programs emerging as a core use case that adds value to utilities and their customers with a combination of time-varying rates and daily cooling/heating optimizations powered by Orchestrated Energy.

For example, Uplight recently launched a Smart Home Rate pilot as part of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (NYREV) initiative to test out innovative rate designs that increase the efficiency of the grid and make energy costs more transparent to the end customer. This pilot features both a dynamic day-ahead TOU rate from New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and a significant daily per-kW demand charge. From June 1 through September 30 the pilot also includes DR events. The program leverages Orchestrated Energy and Emerson Sensi Touch smart thermostats to automatically lower customer bills and relieve pressure on the grid. 

Because demand charges encourage customers to spread out their energy use, Uplight has recently added new features to handle complex rates, including:

  • Generating individualized baseload forecast models trained on AMI data. 
  • A new comfort model trained on the historical thermostat telemetry.  

These are just two of several models fed into the core Orchestrated Energy optimization algorithm that chooses when to cool/heat each house each day.

To show what it looks like when Orchestrated Energy is doing its thing, the following is a simulated optimization of an enrollee’s household using hot summer weather. (Don’t let the plot overwhelm you though, we’ll explain it all further below).

There are several things to call out here. The cooling runtime is largely targeted outside the demand charge period and at times when the TOU rate is low. While the optimization does expect a little cooling within the demand charge period you can also see the cooling is targeted for a time when it won’t coincide with high baseload. Lastly, you see the home temperature remains comfortable for the customer. 

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This next-level optimization is already starting to support a growing number of utility programs that leverage daily optimization on non-DR days. For instance: 

  • At a Southern utility we are running a pure “TOU-only” program featuring daily optimizations for customers against their TOU rate.  
  • This summer Consumers Energy is allowing customers of their Uplight managed DR program to opt-in to daily optimization against their new mandatory Summer Peak TOU rate
  • In mid-2021 we will be launching two additional DR plus TOU optimization programs as well, one of which also includes demand charges and several rate options.

Daily TOU optimization is just one benefit of many that Uplight can uniquely deliver our clients and their customers with TOU Rates.  To learn more, check out our new ebook on TOU optimization.



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