Two New Reports Highlight Actions State and Local Governments Can Take to Increase Electricity System Flexibility

April 30, 2020

Growth in peak demand, higher levels of wind and solar generation, and transportation electrification are raising new challenges for electricity systems. Buildings are a source of demand flexibility that can help meet these challenges cost-effectively.

Two new SEE Action Network reports by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, available here (under "Other Publications"), provide resources for state and local governments and stakeholders addressing questions including:

  • How can distributed energy resources in grid-interactive efficient buildings* make electricity demand more flexible?
  • What state and local policy goals can demand flexibility help meet?
  • How can demand flexibility be appropriately valued in electricity system planning? 

Electricity systems are designed to meet peak demand, even if that demand occurs only a few hours in a year. Buildings account for 75 percent of electricity consumption and in some regions up to 80 percent of peak demand. With many adjustable loads, buildings also represent the largest source of demand flexibility.

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings: An Introduction for State and Local Governments, by Lisa Schwartz and Greg Leventis, describes grid-interactive efficient buildings in the context of state and local government interests; highlights trends, challenges and opportunities for demand flexibility; provides an overview of valuation and performance assessments for demand flexibility; and outlines actions that state and local governments can take, in concert with utilities, regional grid operators, and building owners, to advance demand flexibility.

Determining Utility System Value of Demand Flexibility from Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings, by Tom Eckman, Lisa Schwartz and Greg Leventis, introduces key valuation concepts in electricity system planning for demand flexibility, describes current methods and practices to establish economic value to the utility system for grid services, and discusses seven ways to more fully account for the value of demand flexibility with a focus on resource and program planning.

Webinar slides and audio recordings for the reports are available here (see August 13, 2019, and April 6, 2020, webinars).

A third and final report in this series is forthcoming: Issues and Considerations for Advancing Performance Assessments of Demand Flexibility from Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings. The report summarizes current practices and opportunities to encourage robust and cost-effective assessments of demand flexibility performance and improve planning and implementation based on verified performance.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office supported this work.

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*An energy-efficient building that uses smart technologies and on-site distributed energy resources to provide demand flexibility while co-optimizing for energy cost, grid services, and occupant needs and preferences in a continuous and integrated way. See https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/grid-interactive-efficient-buildings.

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