Has demand response hit an evolutionary dead end?
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
On March 18, the day after this issue went to press, FERC was scheduled at its decisional meeting to open a new formal inquiry on the role of demand response in regions that already have competitive wholesale power markets.
In particular, how much money should grid operators pay to electric customers who promise not to buy wholesale power?
While this new initiative presumably will cover the entire country, its purpose clearly is to settle a canard of a dispute that arose last August, when PJM proposed a new tariff for “economic” demand response—i.e., DR provided for profit, as opposed to reliability.
The case was reported in depth previously in this column, and in fact appeared ripe for decision as far back as December of last year. (See “Negawatt Pricing,” December 2009.) Yet the commission mysteriously failed to act, choosing to postpone its ruling indefinitely and prompting all manner of speculation on why the delay. Had something or someone turned the chairman’s ear?