The Wolf at the Door?
Of course, there's nothing to stop a utility from aggregating its own customers.
WHAT, EXACTLY, IS LOAD "AGGREGATION?" Is it a threat, an opportunity, or merely a sales tactic?
Actions taken in California, as well as in pilot programs across the country, place customer aggregation on the leading edge of efforts to pull native load from electric utilities.
Ironically, present-day utilities already "aggregate" their customers (em albeit into a single group. It's called the "customer base." But nothing stops utilities from adding a few innovative wrinkles to gain value from aggregation strategies. In fact, if utilities could somehow put aside the notion of collegiality, we might see an aggressive power company profit handsomely from aggregation (em or even branch out of its service territory.
The First Wave
While energy entrepreneurs are hoping to lure customers away from utilities through a variety of new products, it is the aggregation of load and services that seems to be attracting the most attention. Aggregators work along the same lines as long-distance companies, buying co-ops, credit card handlers, and other organizations that compete for the privilege of bringing many end users together. They act as the "business agent" for the aggregated group to obtain low-cost power or reserve transmission capacity, much gas marketers have done for the last decade.
• In California, New Energy Ventures (NEV) claims to have signed up nearly 5,000 megawatts (Mws) of load (roughly 10% the state's load), and is looking eventually to aggregate 10,000 Mws.