How co-ops are helping member-consumers through demand-side management programs
Managing consumer energy demand has taken many directions during the past 12 years. From helping members transition to LED lights to the recycling of inefficient refrigerators, the program continues to be nimble as it connects programs to meet member needs.
The goal is unwavering as the program helps residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural member-consumers manage their energy consumption. It also helps achieve cost savings in the capacity market by reducing energy needs during times of high demand.
In 2020, power reduction through DSM efforts totaled 12.92 MW through a range of energy efficiency and rebate programs.
Residential HVAC rebates
Picking up momentum through ongoing marketing efforts is the residential HVAC rebate program. The program helps member-consumers select energy efficient air-source, geothermal, or mini-split heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.
Blake Kleaving, Manager of Energy Management Solutions, says the program connects well with beneficial electrification efforts.
“DSM programs naturally align with beneficial electrification. One way this takes pace is through reduced load in the summer because new, efficient equipment is used but load grows in the winter where demand transitions away from natural gas or propane as a fuel source to electric heat pumps,” said Kleaving.
DSM program development
A new subcommittee, made up of member co-op employees, was formed to evaluate, assess and provide recommendations on future DSM programs. A focus on beneficial electrification initiatives drove many discussions by the group of co-op and Hoosier Energy employees. By showing member-consumers the value electric devices bring, member engagement can flourish.
New pilots have launched with a focus on helping member-consumers use energy efficiently at home. Heating and cooling an all-electric home is the largest energy use member-consumers have. That led to a smart thermostat pilot project at Jackson County REMC. Partnering with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the co-op is testing ecobee thermostats for energy management during times of peak load demand.
Engaging member-consumers outdoors is where the Electric Lawn Care Equipment Pilot provides value. This rebate program will help member-consumers experience how all-electric equipment has advanced in recent years, competing with gasoline equipment.
“A positive experience with electric lawnmowers, string trimmers or leaf blowers can set the stage for larger purchases in the future – maybe even an electric vehicle,” said Kleaving.
The data gained today through these programs will help member cooperatives show their experience with residential electric equipment.
“Electric equipment pilots like these help show that co-ops are moving quickly to meet consumer preferences as certain segments move into smart technologies and consumers upgrade to all-electric household equipment,” said Kleaving.
The process of building and marketing these pilots show how multiple departments across Hoosier Energy and member cooperatives are collaborating to research and implement new programs.