Demand Response Program Reaps Environmental, Financial Rewards

United Water Conservation District (UWCD), a water treatment facility and supplier in Santa Paula, CA, has been involved in electric power demand response programs through Southern California Edison (SCE) since 2003.

Oct 1st, 2009
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United Water Conservation District (UWCD), a water treatment facility and supplier in Santa Paula, CA, has been involved in electric power demand response programs through Southern California Edison (SCE) since 2003.

Demand response is an energy management program through which energy users can earn revenue by agreeing to curtail their electricity consumption during periods of peak demand or real-time system emergencies. At the same time, they can contribute to grid stability and help prevent the need for new power plants.

UWCD staff understood the financial and environmental potential of demand response programs but decided they need help setting up the program.

"With our focus being on water supply, we had very little internal knowledge about the best strategy for reducing energy use without it having an adverse effect on our customers," said Tony Blankenship, operations and maintenance manager at UWCD. "We were looking to partner with a demand response provider that could offer us a program that fit our needs and objectives and guide us on the right curtailment measures to ensure participation would not impact our revenue and customer service."

Four stand-by natural gas booster pumps are brought on line to supply water to customers while the electric booster pumps are off line.

The water district staff researched programs that would give them the flexibility to participate when they could, without incurring penalties if they could not participate during a certain event. After completing an in-depth evaluation of multiple demand response providers, UWCD contracted with the energy management firm CPower.

"CPower's program fit our needs perfectly. If we were't able to shed load during an event because our demand was too high, there was't a penalty – we just would't receive a payment that month," said Blankenship. "CPower has been able to provide us with the guidance and flexibility we were looking for."

During the initial phase of the program, CPower worked with UWCD to identify a curtailable energy load of 400 kW which would not have an adverse effect on the water district's daily operations. Under terms of the agreement, UWCD is required to curtail up to 400kW of energy for a maximum of four hours after receiving notification of an event.

In order to achieve that goal, and sustain required standards of operation, UWCD switches from electricity to natural gas engines.

In the past six years, UWCD has participated in all but one demand response event, and its customers have experienced no adverse effects from the program. In addition to reducing its own energy expenses, UWCD's demand response program enabled the water district to earn significant revenue. The program also gave UWCD the opportunity to reduce its per kW cost by helping SCE avoid building additional power plants and prevent blackouts by contributing to the reliability of its regional electrical system.

When United Water Conservation District (UWCD) is requested to shed load, its 400 hp booster pumps are taken off line to meet the curtailment.

"Before our demand response program, we were having rolling blackouts and, as a water district, we could not afford to have these occurrences. Not only were they disruptive to households and businesses, they were costing the district and our customers money by interrupting our water purification process," said Blankenship.

Today, UWCD is looking for new ways to reduce energy consumption even more. The water district now has plans to expand its participation from a summer-only program to a year-round program.

About UWCD

Since it began operation in 1927, United Water Conservation District has committed to the mission of protecting its regio's water supply and providing water through the most efficient means. Located in Santa Paula, CA, the district is responsible for maintaining and managing water resources for more than 214,000 acres, spanning the Santa Clara River Valley and the Oxnard Plain. Capable of producing more than 32 million gallons of water a day, the district provides drinking water to cities, water agencies, naval bases and school districts including the City of Oxnard and Port Hueneme Water Agency. WW

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