WHITEPAPER. The Business Case for DLC Replacement

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1 WHITEPAPER The Business Case for DLC Replacement

2 The Business Case for DLC Replacement Direct load control (DLC) is a key component of demand response (DR) programs, enabling utilities to reduce loads during periods of high demand and avoid the costs of peak energy, even postpone the need for new generation. Today, many utilities run load control programs over legacy paging networks, which only provide one-way communications. Consequently, utilities have no way to get information back from load control switches, which makes it difficult and costly to verify load reductions and pinpoint non-functioning switches for repair or replacement. Older switches have failed or been disabled over the years and with limited maintenance, this often leads to an effectiveness of only 70 to 80 percent of total DLC events. However, utilities continue to pay incentives to customers whether or not load was shed. As these DLC systems age, their benefits are declining relative to the money utilities are spending to run them. By leveraging the highly reliable, two-way communications of a smart grid network and replacing old switches with next-generation intelligent switches, utilities can eliminate the need for a separate DR/DLC network infrastructure, gain visibility into switch operation, better predict future load shedding, and expand load control programs to additional customers. Utilities that are launching smart grid initiatives have an opportunity to boost the benefits of their DLC program as much as 40 percent. Silver Spring Networks is unique in our ability to provide comprehensive demand response solutions that enable utilities to directly monitor and manage energy-intensive assets-- from air conditioners and pool pumps to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations-- with and without an existing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Silver Spring s Direct-to-Grid communications option, for example, uses load control devices that communicate directly to the smart grid network, letting utilities support DLC in locations not yet served by a smart meter. Figure 1 illustrates the business impact of a direct-to-grid demand response solution. 1 Figure 1 Business As Usual One-way Field failures unreported Annual Lost Benefits ~$1.7M Upgrade Two-way communications Through extensive financial analysis, program deployments and customer engagement, Silver Spring Networks has gained key insights into what makes--and breaks--the business case for the replacement of legacy DLC infrastructure with a smart-grid based solution. Whether or not a utility has already implemented AMI, there is a solid business case for DLC replacement. 2 3 Unreliable ~30% comms failure rate Outdated Technology 20% lost AC benefits ~$0.4M ~$1.0M >99% event success rate New switches - 20% load reduction improvement >40% Additional benefits This paper discusses the business case for DLC replacement, including the major cost and benefit drivers, as well as key advantages of leveraging a smart grid network for load control. Silver Spring s Direct-to-Grid technology allows utilities to upgrade easily and rapidly to derive more value from their demand response programs. 2

3 DLC Benefits DLC is all about reducing peak demand and therefore the high cost of energy needed to meet that demand. Every end device that a utility connects to a switch, and has permission to cycle on and off, can be used to lower peak demand. With an effective DLC system, utilities reduce their need for expensive peak energy and often can avoid building additional peak capacity and the associated upgrades to transmission and distribution systems. Based on our work with a wide range of utilities, Silver Spring has found there is a solid business case for replacing a legacy load control network with one based on a smart grid network. A utility can reasonably expect a benefits-to-costs ratio in a range near 2.0, depending on the number of participants, value of peak capacity, amount paid out in incentives, and how quickly the old DLC system is replaced. With a faster replacement, for example, a utility can realize incremental benefits sooner and for a longer period of time. To demonstrate the business case for DLC replacement, Silver Spring has modeled a generic utility scenario based on one million endpoints, a 10% participation rate in a legacy direct load control program, and a typical mix of end devices (100% of participants with air conditioners, 10% with pool pumps or other endpoints, such as water heaters, electric heaters, or EV charging stations). A summary of the business case input assumptions and corresponding outputs are shown in Figure 2. The current or business as usual benefitscosts ratio for our generic utility s legacy DLC program is outlined in the table below: Benefits Costs B/C ratio Figure 2 Cost Categories Benefits Categories $998 $ This analysis captures present value dollar per participant over a 15-year program with a total base of 1 million customers and 10% participation. Although the current return is positive, program results are far from optimal. As the business case model will demonstrate, just an incremental investment in DLC replacement will yield a significant improvement in benefits. Hardware Software Installation Systems Integration Avoided Peak Energy Purchases Increasing Benefits Using Smart Grid-based, 2-Way Load Control Switches Historically, utilities have used load control switches that communicate in one direction over a paging network. These networks have a much lower connectivity rate than the smart grid network that Silver Spring offers. For a utility with a 10-year old paging Network Marketing/ Incentives The structure of the business case for load control demand response programs. Avoided Peak Capacity Spend 3

4 network, it s conservatively estimated that only 75% of load control events actually reach the switches in the field. In contrast, Directto-Grid switches have a 99% connectivity rate, ensuring more participants are reached for each event, with greater load shedding. Since paging networks operate in one direction, they can t detect when switches fail, which reduces the success rate of load control events over time. Silver Spring s model shows that, over 15 years, an average of 30% of DLC benefits are lost annually due to non-functioning devices and coverage gaps alone, which equates to more than $2 million a year for our generic utility. By replacing paging systems with two-way communications, utilities can now cost effectively detect and repair/replace failed devices to reclaim these benefits. In addition, switches themselves have gotten more intelligent in recent years, employing better cycling algorithms that can deliver 20% greater peak reduction when controlling air conditioners, for example. When this load drop boost for air conditioners is combined with the higher connection rate provided by a smart grid, a utility can achieve up to 40% greater benefits, which adds up to $41.8 million over 15 years for our sample utility. Figure 3 highlights these benefits and costs as well as the primary sources of difference. Figure 3 Benefits Costs $998 Current (Paging) $532 Current (Paging) +42% +32% $1416 Replacement $705 Replacement Sources of Difference 99% event success rate vs. 75% Proactive alerts to identify failed switches More efficient A/C cycling yields 20% more load drop Sources of Difference Deployment, Systems Integration, Project Management Switch hardware and installation Business case comparison of a legacy DLC program vs. replacement DLC, PV dollars per participant over 15 years. Having two-way communications on the DLC network provides granular visibility into each load control event, enabling utilities to collect unprecedented customer participation data. For example, all utilities experience some percentage of free riding participants who collect annual incentives even when not participating in DLC events through tampering or oversized air conditioning systems. Two-way communications via smart-grid connected load control switches enable a utility to verify load reduction and therefore to create incentive structures that better align with the benefit they receive from each customer. Accurate load shedding data also makes it possible to predict future load shedding more precisely for more accurate forecasting. Secondary benefits of DLC replacement include the ability to smooth the balance between electricity supply and demand; for example, when power plants are coming online or going offline, or to integrate renewables. In addition, operators gain visibility into switch operation and health, which makes it easy to identify switches that are not functioning, improves maintenance, increases reliability, and reduces unnecessary truck rolls and other costs. 4

5 DLC Costs The largest costs associated with running a DLC program are load control switch hardware and installation, load control software and, depending on the utility, the periodic incentive payments made to each participant. Other expenses include the costs to run and market the program, systems integration, the call center, and field support. According to Silver Spring s analysis, our example utility spends about $53 million over 15 years to run its program, or about $532 per participant. Smart Grid DLC Costs Utilities that begin with an AMI deployment and add on DLC will have lower costs due to their ability to leverage the AMI network for DLC communications. Utilities that have not yet deployed an AMI network will have an additional network expense. Direct-to-Grid switches with integrated communications are somewhat more expensive than a pager-based switch. While on first glance this may seem high, the switch cost only amounts to 15% of the total DLC program spend. It s important to keep this cost in perspective; overall, our generic utility is spending incrementally to get $41.8 million in additional benefits. Silver Spring Networks Can Help Build Your Business Case Figure 4 Software UtilityIQ DEMAND OPTIMIZER UtilityIQ HAN COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER UtilityIQ ADVANCED METERING MANAGER Network WAN ACCESS POINT FIELD TOOL Premise COMMS MODULE Silver Spring s Direct-to-Grid technology allows utilities to directly monitor and manage energy intensive assets. Utilities initiate load control messages or pricing events from within UtilityIQ Demand Optimizer. Load control switches from multiple manufacturers seamlessly integrate with Silver Spring s end-to-end demand response solution. As a smart grid leader, Silver Spring Networks has both the expertise and experience to assist utilities in building a solid business case for, and deploying, a comprehensive DR program. The Silver Spring DR solution is a fully-integrated system consisting of the smart grid network; back-office software, including UtilityIQ Demand Optimizer, Utility IQ HAN Communications Manager (HCM) and GridScape; third-party in-home devices; and turnkey services that enable utilities to deploy broad-scale load control and pricing-based programs. Silver Spring offers an innovative Direct-to- Grid solution that delivers robust, two-way communications, ensuring utilities can reach high-value assets and shed load reliably. With Direct-to-Grid, Silver Spring s Communications Modules are integrated into load control switches from multiple manufacturers and other third-party devices, giving utilities choice and flexibility. Figure 4 illustrates Silver Spring Networks demand response solution. 5

6 Silver Spring s DR solutions enable utilities to better match generation with demand in real time, more easily integrate renewable energy sources, and deliver savings to the bottom line. Utilities also benefit from the ability measure and evaluate program results for themselves and for customers by collecting information about customer energy usage before, during, and after a DLC event. Leveraging the Silver Spring platform for demand response delivers greater control over energy use and allows utilities to consolidate DR programs, integrate existing legacy components, optimize customer demand, manage peak load, meet regulatory requirements, and create new revenue streams while reducing operational overhead. Silver Spring Networks has worked with utilities worldwide to quantify the benefits of smart grid projects. We would like to help you arrive at an initial estimate of your DLC replacement business case and achieve an increase in benefits over your current system. About Silver Spring Networks Silver Spring Networks is a leading networking platform and solutions provider for smart energy networks. Silver Spring s pioneering IPv6 networking platform, with 17 million Silver Spring enabled devices delivered, is connecting utilities to homes and business throughout the world with the goal of achieving greater energy efficiency for the planet. Silver Spring s innovative solutions enable utilities to gain operational efficiencies, improve grid reliability, and empower consumers to monitor and manage energy consumption. Silver Spring Networks customers include major utilities around the globe such as Baltimore Gas & Electric, CitiPower & Powercor, Commonwealth Edison, CPS Energy, Florida Power & Light, Jemena Electricity Networks Limited, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pepco Holdings, Progress Energy, and Singapore Power, among others. silverspringnet.com Copyright 2013 Silver Spring Networks. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks are the properties of their respective owners. REV. 9/5/2013 6

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