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Building Real-Time Grid Intelligence

Brett Feldman
Apr 01, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

Between increased distributed generation adoption and growing electrification of buildings and transportation, the range of daily electric and gas energy demand and rate of change are increasing. Extreme weather events in Texas and California have also created supply challenges and demand pressure leading to system outages. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted utility program manager focus toward the residential segment as more time spent in the home moved the flow of gas and electricity toward single-family homes and multifamily dwellings. Thus, in 2021, utilities need to engage customers in strategic demand management to ensure grid reliability.

Wireless real-time energy management (WREM) is a cohesive tool for electric, gas, and water utility program managers looking to close the gap between grid need and end customers’ growing desire for energy control and home comfort. Inherent in the melding of utility and customer energy solutions through WREM is program managers' ability to gain insight behind the meter. This granular knowledge is necessary for utilities seeking to engage residential customers in real time. Helping customers act in the moments that matter results in more meaningful grid impacts, a reduction in the cost to serve energy, and the ability to maximize the use of variable renewables and other flexible sources to stabilize the grid. WREM provides utility program managers with the tools necessary to manage peak demand, optimize a growing number of distributed energy resources (DER), and provide frictionless customer engagement.

WREM solutions are part of the growing home energy management market, forecast to earn nearly $3 billion in revenue in North America in 2021. An added benefit of WREM is its scalability regardless of the installed meter base. It might serve as a fast deployment bridge to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), or it might enhance existing AMI-driven insights. Guidehouse Insights recently published a white paper titled Building Real-Time Grid Intelligence, which details the factors that define the WREM market and its applications, as noted in the figure below.

Use Cases for WREM

Use Cases for WREM

*Note: AMR stands for automated meter reading.

(Source: Guidehouse Insights)

With utility program managers working to develop the next generation of residential demand side management programming, there are several opportunities to achieve meaningful grid impacts:

  • Scale WREM programs to motivate community-level impacts: The granular insights derived from WREM in-home monitoring devices can help utilities foster a sense of community among customers and enable action when it matters most.
  • Plan for WREM solutions to span various stages of AMI deployment: By allowing for enhanced customer engagement and the extraction of more value from DER deployments, WREM solutions can provide long-term value beyond AMI-level insights.
  • Embrace data streams generated from WREM: Beyond customer engagement, peak demand management, and grid optimization, utilities should consider engaging data streams for applications such as utility billing support, conservation voltage reduction, customer baseline identification and refinement, and DER anomaly identification and reporting.

The transition to a more sustainable energy future requires advanced grid edge intelligence to help utilities cope with the complications associated with the newfound two-way power flows generated by DER. Beyond these insights, WREM gives new opportunities for utilities to provide meaningful grid services and engage their customers to support grid reliability. Scalable, personalized, and real-time insights available through WREM are important tools in enabling utilities and their customers to harness the clean energy transition with greater personalization, comfort, and control.