At EPRI Labs: Allen Dennis


Senior Program Manager

PUF 2.0 - November 15, 2017

Electric Power Research Institute Senior Program Manager Allen Dennis talks about the payback of efficient electrification through customer productivity.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: How are you involved with efficient electrification at EPRI?

Allen Dennis: I manage EPRI's R&D program, Electrification for Customer Productivity. Our program evaluates the potential of residential, commercial, and industrial technologies to make end use customers more productive in their business or to provide more comfort and value at home. Residential technologies, such as next-generation heat pumps, and commercial and industrial technologies, such as electric forklifts, infrared and induction heating, are proliferating and expanding. Utilities need to know how these loads have the potential to benefit customers and society.

We work with thirty-six utilities, developing customized case studies for them and examining electrification technologies that show the most potential for their markets.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What are the most interesting ways that we can electrify things we do with fossil fuel now?

Allen Dennis: There's a very good payback on airport transportation and forklifts. Another aspect of transportation is electric transport refrigeration units, also called eTRUs. Those are trailers that keep food frozen or refrigerated.

Right now, those run on diesel. The two manufacturers of that equipment also make electric equipment that you can plug in. When the long-haul trailers or short-haul trucks are parked or docked, it's no longer necessary to keep the diesel engine running to refrigerate the food. The grid can do it more economically and cleanly.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Are the technologies getting better and more cost-effective?

Allen Dennis: Yes. Our area primarily focuses on proven technologies that are commercially available in the market today. The vendors we work with are trying to sell these products every day. We also focus on future electrification technologies that may be in the pipeline.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What is necessary to provide electrification a better footing in these new applications?

Allen Dennis: I think it takes all of us. Policymakers ask, "How do we set the right framework to get customers to put in these technologies?" Utilities ask, "How do we understand what the system impacts are?"

The environmental folks ask, "What are the benefits from these technologies with respect to emissions reductions?"

It's not any one player. EPRI and other organizations are working to bring all these folks together.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Where do you focus your thinking and your work day-to-day?

Allen Dennis: We're trying to bridge the electrification value chain by quantifying the potential benefits of electrified technologies for residential, commercial, and industrial customers, in specific markets. Bringing data into sharp focus can help utilities and their customers realize the full potential of efficient electrification.