Increased penetration of renewable energy into power grids and the growing popularity of wind energy and electric vehicles require utilities to strategically manage power loads by exercising greater control over the grid, to keep the load in sync with generation. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) have undertaken certain trend-setting initiatives to help customers optimize their energy consumption that reduces costs by leveraging data analytics.
Key Initiatives of LADWP
Five years ago, as a part of its integrated resources plan to meet energy requirements 20 years down the line, LADWP made a commitment to make energy efficiency an integral part of its generation and supply strategy. It was decided to cumulatively source 15 percent of the energy from customers’ renewable resources, between 2010 and 2020, while traditional modes would supply the remaining 85 percent. Having achieved the goal in five years, LADWP is now looking toward 2030.
The state of California has a mandate to double the energy efficiency by 2030 from the current value, which would require LADWP to increase its energy efficiency by another 30 percent. To achieve the target, the agency has initiated a comprehensive portfolio of energy efficiency programs, targeted at customers, wherein data analytics plays a crucial role.
Data Analytics: The Key to Energy Efficiency
Data analytics constitutes an integral part of the LADWP’s energy efficiency program. With a majority of our customers having deployed time-of-use meters, their power consumption data is available to LADWP every 15 minutes for 8760 hours a year. The data so obtained is proactively mined using remote billing audit or assessment of energy consumption and generation to identify efficiency opportunities for customers. Externally available data points pertaining to weather conditions—building data such as height, the number of stories, and electrical installations, along with the meter data— is fed to modeling algorithms to prepare energy efficiency models for each building, without meeting the customer. The process costs guarantee greater efficiency to customers at 1/5th to 1/10th the cost of a field audit.
"As renewable sources of energy find their way into the grid, strategic management of power resources becomes indispensable for achieving energy efficiency"
Prior to approaching customers with the energy efficiency plan, the information collected is distilled down to a three or four-page graphical report, which is further abridged to provide a brief summary of the building facility and the recommended measures to dollarize energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Models Facilitate Renewables
LADWP’s integrated energy efficiency analysis factors demand response and solar opportunities, along with focusing on the trade-off between power generation and energy efficiency. From a customer’s standpoint, maximizing efficiency is accorded priority over installation of systems (such as solar) bigger than they really need.
Initiative with K12 Schools
Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), which is the second largest school district in the U.S. after New York City, is our customer. With over 600,000 students and 800 schools, LAUSD offers immense scope for implementing best-in-class energy efficiency programs. With the intention of reducing costs, LAUSD initiated a project to cover all its schools under energy efficiency programs, following which we stepped in.
The program was implemented in collaboration with California Proposition 39, whom we assisted in closing a tax loophole that improved corporate tax collection, significantly. A big chunk of the revenue was dedicated to improving the public schools in California towards increasing energy efficiency. The very first analysis was to look at the energy intensity in all schools and rank them accordingly, which is kWh/sq ft/ year and then apply data analytics to understand the reasons behind it. And then they picked schools offering greater scope for Proposition 39 funding and applied to the schools. Project details were readily available due to the efficiency models prepared by LADWP.
Strategic Energy Management is the Key
As renewable sources of energy find their way into the grid, strategic management of power resources becomes indispensable for achieving energy efficiency. Being laser-focused on achieving the highest standards in energy efficiency, LADWP intends to balance demand response to save energy for peak times, using array storage to absorb excess generation. Further, with electric vehicles hitting the road, we are creating a mobile battery and partnering with major automakers to make it the single largest mobile storage resource, where both charging and discharging would be strategically managed.
The management part is crucial is because we intend to enable a possibility of vehicles being able to charge their vehicles in the afternoon when solar generation is at its peak, but as people return home in the evenings and plug-in, the charge can be absorbed from the vehicles to meet the surge in demand, when no solar power is generated. Again, as the demand subsides post 10 PM or 11 PM, the direction of electricity can be reversed to ensure that the vehicle is fully charged by morning.
Although state-of-the-art technology is foundational to achieve energy efficiency, utilities are required to operate under constraints concerning equity and environmental justice that utilities cannot afford to bypass. Therefore, irrespective of the intended objectives of a power utility, complying with the policy imperatives applicable within the specific areas of service is a must.