Whisker Labs Receives MIPS Grant to Advance Demand Response

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program has awarded a joint grant to Whisker Labs, a division of Earth Networks, to study the potential economic benefit of shifting customers’ electricity loads through the use of its Connected Savings energy management platform, the recipient announced on February 22.

According to Whisker Labs, which was acquired by Earth Networks late last year, “Connected Savings is the first in the industry to combine big weather data and analytics to deliver intelligent demand side management and energy efficiency programs.”

MIPS provides funding, matched by participating companies, for university-based research projects that help the companies develop new products. The program is administered at the University of Maryland-College Park and works throughout the 12 member institutions of the University System of Maryland, plus Morgan State University and St. Mary’s College.

The research will be conducted in collaboration with Steven Gabriel, professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland.

The study will investigate peak load management as part of utility Demand Response (DR) programs. Stochastic optimization models – optimization methods that generate and use random variables – will be developed and implemented to enable Retail Electric Providers (REPs) and utilities to predict when and how it is best to shift load away during high-priced power procurement periods.

In most energy markets, the price of electricity stays under $50/MW for the majority of the year; however, that price can spike to over $1,000/MW for brief periods when the grid is stressed.

A portion of the rates charged to customers covers financial hedging positions that REPs must use as protection against such high priced periods. The research team looks to determine optimal DR strategies that can serve as a lower cost replacement for these hedging positions, limiting REP’s risk, and ultimately, reducing customers’ electricity rates.

The advantages of this intelligent demand response approach are proven, according to Whisker Labs: A residential customer program in Texas found Connected Savings provided 13 percent more capacity per home or 1.76-kW/home compared to the 1.5-kW/home market participant average during summer 2015.

“MIPS is focused on bringing the inventive minds and extensive laboratory resources of the University System of Maryland (USM) to bear by supporting university-based research projects that help Maryland companies develop innovative technology-based products,” said MIPS Director Joseph Naft. “We hope our collaboration with Whisker Labs yields a better understanding of the potential economic benefits of intelligent demand response.”

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