Austin Demand Response Combines EV Charging, Variety of Thermostats

dromsSince February, Austin Energy has been conducting an automated demand response pilot for about 60 residential customers. The ADR program is unusual because it also combines electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and different types of thermostats. Although the program is still small, if it’s successful, Austin Energy plans to roll it out to business customers in the next phase of adoption, according to a spokesperson with AutoGrid.

Austin Energy’s ADR program uses AutoGrid’s Demand Response Optimization and Management System (DROMS), and the EV charging stations come from ChargePoint. Using AutoGrid’s DROMS platform, Austin Energy is able to plan and declare demand response events more quickly without having to log into multiple vendor portals.

Test events occurred on July 11, 12, 25, 31 and August 1, the first of many to come this summer.

As for the EV charging stations: “We sent a message out to the EV owners and notified them of the event,” said the AutoGrid spokesperson. “They were able to participate or opt out. This is a historical landmark in EV-to-Grid communications deployed in the field. DROMS has the capability to send two-way signals.”

Under the Austin Energy initiative, residential consumers are allowed to select their own thermostat (dubbed bring your own thermostat – BYOT) from a number of different manufacturers. So far, the program is using thermostats from three different manufacturers, including ecobee.

DROMS is compatible with thermostats and other equipment from over 100 manufacturers and is capable of supporting multiple standards such as OpenADR 1.0, OpenADR 2.0, Smart Energy Profile 1.x and 2.0, simultaneously.

Some of the highlights of the Austin Energy program:

  • Consumers are able to select their own brand of thermostat at retail outlets and enroll in Austin Energy’s program through the portal provided by the device manufacturer.
  • Austin Energy is able to notify customers via email in addition to direct communication across different devices and channels of communication for automated participation in events.
  • On the demand response event for July 11, 85 percent of the available ChargePoint EV charging stations and 80 percent of customers with ecobee thermostats enrolled in the program participated in the event.
  • On July 12, 100 percent of ChargePoint stations participated and 90 percent of ecobee customers participated. The remaining 10 percent of the customers opted-out through the thermostat portal.
  • Austin Energy was able to reschedule the July 12 event across all devices within two minutes of deciding, a process that would take much longer logging into multiple vendor portals.
  • Austin Energy is able to group events based on the reason the event was created in DROMS system. These reasons could be peak management, grid reliability, wholesale market demand charge, or locational marginal pricing, among others.
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