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Efficiency and Demand Response: Twins, Siblings, or Cousins?

Analyzing the conservation effects of demand response programs.

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2005
  1. utility sponsors between 1975 and 2004.
  2. See results for Holland ENW Amsterdam in Wolsink, M., "New Experimental Electricity Tariff Systems for Household End Use," Proceedings ECEEE, 1997. Also see, King, C., "Integrating Residential Dynamic Pricing and Load Control: The Literature," , Dec. 14, 2004.
  3. Barbose, G. et. al., "A Survey of Utility Experience with Real Time Pricing," LBNL-54238, December 2004.
  4. Quantum Consulting, "Working Group 2 Demand Response Program Evaluaiton - Program Year 2004 Final Report," December 2004.
  6. Al-Shakarchi, M. and N. Abu-Zeid, "A Study of Load Management by Direct Control for Jordan's Electrical Power System," , 7:2, 2002.
  7. Goldberg, M., "Knowing Your Limits: Direct Load Control Capacity Credits Based on Censoring Distribution Analysis," AEIC Load Research Conference, August 2000.
  8. Darby, S., "Making It Obvious: Designing Feedback into Energy Consumption," in , edited by Bertoldi et. al., Springer, 2001.
  9. Farhar, B. "Effects of Feedback on Residential Electricity Consumption: A Literature Review," Solar Energy Research Institute, January 1989.
  10. California Energy Commission, Report to the Legislature on Assembly Bill 29X, June 2002.
  11. Wood, K., "SCE's C&I Customers Manage Load in Real Time," , Oct. 1, 2003.
  12. Braithwait, Steven. "Peak Demand Impacts of TOU Rates and Customer Access to Usage Data," California Energy Commission Demand Response.


Only 5 percent of CPP and DBP participants surveyed who reported taking DR action for at least one event stated their organization increased their energy usage before the event occurred to make up for the reduction that was to occur, and 17 percent reported they increased their energy use after the event to make up for what was lost. 5

Direct feedback in conjunction with some form of advice or information gave savings in the region of 10 percent in four programs aimed at low-income households (with constant or improved levels of comfort), indicating the potential for feedback to be incorporated into advice programs on a regular basis.

Providing direct financial incentives for consumers to save energy (a method tested during the late 1970s) made little lasting impact: consumption reverted to what it had been once the incentive was removed. Cost signals need to be long-term to have a durable effect.

The implication is that all those studies which demonstrated some effectiveness had enough of a common element (or elements) to succeed; or that they compensated for lack of one element with another. It could be, as a minimal explanation, that any intervention helps if it triggers householders into examining their consumption. It could also be that the personal attention of the experimenters motivated the householders into action. However, the documentation of these feedback projects points strongly to other factors at work, of which immediacy or accessibility of feedback data-allowing the householder to be in control-are highly important, accompanied by clear information that is specific to the household in question. Provision of such data is coming well within reach in terms of the technical possibilities for metering, appliance and heating system design.