A few weeks ago I got an email from the director of facilities at the college I attend in Pennsylvania. It said:

With a heat wave predicted over the next couple of days it is very likely a peak in electric power use will hit the PJM grid. The College continues to participate in the Demand Response program so we will be doing what we can behind the scenes to reduce the power that the campus is using. However, you too can help by looking around your spaces and shutting off equipment that you are not using.

A year or two ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about an email like this. But after spending the past summer interning with the demand-side management (DSM) team at E Source, my immediate thought was, “Wow! That’s a really interesting method of pushing behavioral demand response!” A year ago I had no idea what demand response (DR) was, and only knew about peak load with the general idea that I should use less during those hours to try to avoid power outages. Now that I’m more in the know, it’s easy to look back and ask myself how I ever knew so little about how the grid functions.

Even babies participate in demand-response programs

Stock imagery of a baby inserting a plug in a power outlet

I wasn’t alone in my ignorance, however, as my favorite E Source video Stuff Utility Customers Never Say reminds us: There are countless people who, like me, have little to no idea what DR is, how peak load works, or why it might apply to them. But as the email from my college facilities director shows, that doesn’t mean that these customers can’t be utilized for demand response! It’s about knowing your customer, knowing their needs, and knowing how to design programs and DR messaging that can effectively drive savings and participation.

And who knows utility customers better than E Source? We have the knowledge you need to effectively design, implement, and adjust your DR programs. And where can you get this knowledge? The E Source Forum of course! We have a whole session on September 15 dedicated specifically to demand response, with utility experts from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Con Edison, and KCP&L, as well as an industry insider from Navigant Research to discuss how to get the most out of your DR portfolio. Join us at the E Source Forum, September 13–16, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown in Denver, Colorado, to learn more from our expertise!