A new program which uses the Internet to help businesses in California reduce peak electrical demand, save money, and help avoid rolling blackouts has launched on-line operations and is up and running.

Known as the "Power-Pact," it is a demand relief program that asks businesses to voluntarily curtail energy usage during periods when energy reserves are low and prices are skyrocketing, enabling companies to save money, save energy, and ensure power reliability.

The program offers alert notifications to every business in California free of charge and provides the opportunity for businesses to be paid for reducing usage by enrolling in one of the many incentive programs offered state-wide.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) offers a number of programs that pay businesses to curtail energy usage when requested, based on measured reduction. Many utilities also feature similar programs offering financial incentives.

The Power-Pact program offers on-line registration at www.Power-Pact.com. The program was made possible under a contract from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to reduce peak electrical demand. The project was awarded to a team of three energy-based companies including Global Energy Partners, LLC, an energy technology alliance which focuses on the design and use of high productivity, environmentally friendly technologies; EPRI, previously known as the Electric Power Research Institute, which is a nonprofit science and technology consortium for the electricity industry worldwide; and Infotility, Inc., an on-line energy "infomediary" and originator of the 'Power-Pact" concept.

Funded by Assembly Bill 970

Power-Pact was funded by the CEC as a part of California Assembly Bill 970's "Demand Responsive HVAC and Lighting Building Systems" program element, a part of AB 970's Peak Load Reduction Program.

"We are installing 'demand responsive' computer software and hardware systems in buildings, enabling facility managers to reduce the power requirements of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting systems in response to signals from the ISO to avoid rolling blackouts," said Joe Desmond, President of Infotility, and a veteran of the energy efficiency industry.

"Typical strategies used by building operators can be as simple as raising thermostat settings from two to four degrees in commercial buildings, dimming or turning off some portion of lighting systems in buildings or literally any controllable load, often actions that have minimal or no impact on building occupant productivity, safety and comfort," Desmond said.

He noted that any employee can benefit by advance warnings containing peak demand information from the power grid using alert notifications when blackouts are likely to occur. "Companies can now register at Power-Pact.com to receive free, time-critical alerts based on Stage 1, 2 and 3 reliability thresholds," Desmond said. "These alerts are delivered by phone, fax, pager or e-mail -- whichever method they prefer -- and this is the only service through which this personalized, comprehensive capability is available."

Greg Wilder, Principal with Global Energy Partners and project manager for Power-Pact, said he was "excited about the program's comprehensive approach that covers everything fi7om information technology to metering."

"We have assembled a team of highly qualified professionals with years of direct experience in load management and we look forward to participating in this team effort," Wilder said.

"Joining Power-Pact is fast, free and easy," Desmond said. "We tell you what you need to know when, where and how you need to know it. Bottom line: You reduce demand during peak periods, saving substantial amounts of money when the price is highest, and you'll never again be blindsided by a rolling blackout."

"And, companies can either manually reduce energy usage or, through our wireless control technology, automate their demand reduction process," Desmond added.

Functions Much Like Emergency Response System

"During critical periods of peak demand, the system can provide free alerts to notify tens of thousands of individuals simultaneously to take voluntary steps to conserve energy," Desmond added. "In that sense, it functions very much like an emergency response system."

The cumulative effect of all of these actions is to help avoid rolling blackouts, he added. "As we have all learned, every kiloWatt counts during peak periods," said Dr. William M. Smith, Manager, Market-Driven Load Management at EPRI. "People need to remember that not all kiloWatthours are created equal. While a kiloWatthour saved through conservation is good, a kiloWatthour saved during peak periods through load management is even better."

Straightforward, Gives Energy Users What They Need

"While other approaches out there focus on complex energy management systems, our approach is low-cost, straightforward and simple -- give energy users what they want to know, when, where, and how they want it," Desmond said.

"The bottom line is this program identifies, notifies, and responds to critical, time-sensitive information, and combines data mining, alert messaging, and application integration to automate demand responsiveness," he added.

He pointed out that the program provides an alternative to rolling blackouts, provides a way to stern the outward flow of wealth from California, and returns stability to the electric grid.

"By reducing demand during times of shortage, we can lower the cost of energy for all power customers in California," Smith explained. "A IO percent reduction in peak demand could lead to a 50 percent reduction in the wholesale price of electricity. Load management is the only near-term solution that can help us weather the perfect storm that struck California’s electricity industry."

Global Energy Partners, the prime contractor, is providing marketing, engineering analysis, field verification and project management skills in the package, while EPRI is providing technical knowledge transfer from the laboratory into the field, along with customer training.

Infotility developed the concept, created the program, and is providing marketing and systems integration.

Joseph F. Desmond, President of Infotility Inc.

Expected to Save 12 Megawatts

In the initial phase, the Power-Pact is expected to save 12 megawatts of peak electrical demand by June 1, or enough electricity to power 12,000 homes at one time. With the communications infrastructure now in place, Power-Pact can deliver significantly more megawatts over the coming summer months. And as enrollment increases, the program will scale rapidly.

Some of the organizations throughout California that have already committed to reducing peak electrical demand by participating in the Power-Pact program include members of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, the California Department of General Services, the City of San Jose, the County of Los Angeles, and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Current Power-Pact members already represent more than 10,000 buildings throughout California.

Every Business in California Can Benefit

"Any company concerned about reliable electricity can play an active role in reducing energy costs, ensuring reliable electric power for all of us, by registering to become a member of the Power-Pact, and best of all, it's free," Desmond concluded. "Joining the Power-Pact helps us all beat the crisis. And even a small effort on the part of one company means a lot to California."

The interactive alert and response notifications incorporated into the program are provided by Seattle-based PAR3 Communications, Inc. (www.par3.com). PAR3's innovative Intelligent Response Platform will notify businesses when it is critical to reduce energy use and provide real-time response options, enabling employees to remotely control electrical consumption.

Global Energy Partners, LLC, was established in 1998 as a strategic alliance between three energy technology leaders -- EPRI, the Gas Research Institute (GRI), and Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall, one of the world's premier engineering construction companies. Global helps consumers, businesses, industry, government and others make the best decisions about energy use in an effort to grow the design and use of high productivity, environmentally friendly technologies in a restructured industry. The web site address is www.globalenergypartners.com or gepllc.com

EPRI was established by U.S. utilities in 1973 as a nonprofit research consortium for the benefit of the utility members, their customers and society. EPRI creates science and technology solutions for the global energy and energy services industry, serving more than 1,000 energy-related organizations in 40 countries. The organization’s multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers draws on a worldwide network of technical and business expertise to help solve today's toughest energy and environmental problems. The web site address is www.epri.com.

Infotifity, Inc., is an on-line energy "infomediary" that provides a database of high time-value information to a broad array of market participants. Acting as a trusted aggregator, the company facilitates information access to help businesses take advantage of changing and complex energy markets to minimize their energy costs while ensuring reliability.

The company was founded by Desmond, a veteran of the utility, energy efficiency and energy efficient lighting industries, to focus on the collection and dissemination of high-value time-sensitive data on supply, demand and price for the energy sector.

Infotility is headquartered in Pleasanton, California. For more information, contact Infotility at (510) 657-7959 or on the Internet at www.infotflity.com.

Publication date: 06/18/2001