There is a great debate amongst utilities about how to get customers, large and small, to cut peak load. There are carrot approaches, such as rebates, and then there are sticks, like mandatory commercial critical peak pricing. Another approach, which is more long-term and not discussed as often, is increasing appliance and equipment standards for the biggest electricity hogs in homes and businesses.
The appliance standards currently in place will save the U.S. more than 200 quads and $1.1 trillion by 2035, according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, The Efficiency Boom: Cashing In on Savings From Appliance Standards.
It is a difficult sell to tell people that despite rising electricity costs and rolling blackouts, things could be a whole lot worse. But that is the case, especially with standards. The more efficient products will save 240 gigawatts in peak demand in 2035. Another 67 GW, or 6 percent of the total U.S. generating capacity for 2035, could also be offset by new standards being implemented in the coming years.
The need to cut peak has utilities looking at all sorts of consumer-facing programs, from industrial demand response down to residential efficiency. But many of these programs relay on humans — either to answer the phone and start a demand response program, or adjust an air conditioner on the hottest days of summer.