Automated Demand Response

What is Automated Demand Response? 

When utilities anticipate energy usage will be high, such as on a hot summer day or a cold winter night, they send a notice that customers should reduce energy usage as much as they can to reduce the energy demand. If the region uses more electricity than the utility can produce, this causes brown- and blackouts. Higher energy use also results in demand charges, which are extra charges that appear on electric bills for energy usage during peak periods. Read more about demand charges here

Automated demand response (ADR) is an alternative to building more power plants in order to accommodate an increased demand for capacity. ADR uses automation systems to communicate signals from utilities to energy-using devices that causes them to turn off during periods of high demand. When the utility anticipates peak demand, it sends an alert to the ADR system, which then reduces energy use by changing indoor temperatures or turning off/dimming non-essential lights, for example. 

This process thus reduces the energy load, or the amount of energy used by customers, and thus reduces prices during peak periods while ensuring that the service providers can produce enough electricity to meet the market demand. It not only saves customers money, but it also reduces energy consumption overall and adds to a building’s energy efficiency.

Automated Demand Response in Medford 

Buildings, like Medford’s DPW and the upcoming police station, that not only produce their own energy but store extra energy can benefit from this system. Buildings that supply electricity– especially from renewable sources like solar panels– to the grid during times of peak demand can be compensated for it. And by storing their excess energy, the building can operate off-grid, thus saving money during times of peak demand or remaining online during blackouts.  

The solar microgrid at the Medford DPW and the future microgrid at the Andrews Middle School will allow these buildings to participate in ADR. The batteries that store excess electricity generated by the solar panels will be automatically discharged as part of ADR once they are installed. 

The City of Medford has partnered with National Grid to implement ADR in these buildings. National Grid will send a signal to CPower, which will then send a signal to the ADR system in those two buildings to automatically dim lights, reduce fan speeds, etc. In addition, the DPW battery will be discharging its electricity to the grid during these peak times. The City will receive payments from National Grid for both the energy reductions and the energy supply guaranteed by these retrofitted buildings.

Read more about Medford’s energy-efficient buildings here.