It’s clear that in order to meet the combined challenges of finding new sources of clean energy and at the same time planning for increasing demand for electricity that we need an approach that looks at all options for optimizing the energy value chain.

Indeed, one option is demand response programs that pay electric customers to reduce their load during high electric demand hours. Such programs are part of the utility’s overall portfolio of fleet generation. Or, more accurately, non-generation.

Demand response programs pay users to reduce energy use in response to high market prices, or to meet demand when the electric grid is stressed. Otherwise, when the grid is overburdened with high demand and the threat of blackouts, the utility is forced to engage high-cost power sources: "peaking power plants." And, as the global population rises, aging infrastructure resources struggle to deliver. On top of this, concerns for global warming and debates over energy independence are forcing the exploration and development of efficiency alternatives.

In view of these challenges, renewable energies such as wind and solar have gained considerable investment and undergone advanced technological development. However, they still fall drastically short of meeting immediate needs.

Demand response is seen as an alternative form of energy that’s immediately accessible.

Who’s in the Demand Response Ball Game?

Typically, those driving the development of demand response programs are electric aggregators, utilities and market operators. All face a set of difficult challenges:

  • Developing multiple business models around varying rules in every Regional Transmission Organization (RTO)/Independent System Operator (ISO)/utility jurisdiction
  • Execution of time-consuming performance reports & settlement calculations for event processing
  • Possession of an acute knowledge regarding:
    • The industry's quickly evolving identity & emerging new programs
    • Changing compliance regulations & new legislation
    • Metering & hardware options
    • Data collection & presentation services
    • Notification - communicating with massive customer bases
    • Reporting to ISO / RTO / Utility
  • Meeting reduction targets in highly constrained geographic areas
  • Responding to immediate grid reliability issues

It’s clear that anyone involved in the demand response ballgame needs to have a platform that allows them to manage significant complexities.

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One such company that is taking a platform approach to demand response is KCP&L, which recently contracted Ziphany to deploy its Demand Response Platform (ZDRP) to provide meter data management, contract and contact tracking, Web portals, event- management tools, real-time notifications, custom reporting, settlement calculations, and more. ZDRP is a Microsoft-Dynamic NAV based application, developed by Ziphany, a Microsoft Certified Partner, for the utility and aggregator demand response space. In choosing Ziphany, KCP&L notes its willingness to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs in real time.

Our relationship with Ziphany exemplifies our work with partners to supply power and utility companies with the elements needed to move worldwide utilities toward the Smart Grid vision will provide clean energy production, offer better utilization of transmission and distribution infrastructure, and create self-healing/self-monitoring systems. – Jon Arnold