Blog > April 2017 > Comverge Takes Center Stage at the PLMA Spring Conference

Comverge Takes Center Stage at the PLMA Spring Conference

4/13/2017 5:51:56 AM | by Jason Cigarran
The Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA) Spring Conference in Nashville was another overwhelming success for the industry organization and for Comverge. With approximately 250 attendees, the event set a new attendance record – demonstrating the growing interest in demand response. The event was filled with three days of engaging content that attendees could use to improve their current demand-side management programs and also shape future program strategies. 

On the first day of the conference is when the various PLMA interest groups hold their meetings. Comverge's Director, Strategy, Evan Pittman is co-chair of the PLMA Retail Pricing Interest Group, which focuses on the latest in time-varying rate deployment practices and technology. For this meeting, the group heard from the front lines about time-varying pricing programs rollouts from New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, Hydro One, and ComEd. There was discussion about how to unlock expansion of these programs to the mass market.

On Tuesday morning at the conference, Comverge announced a new contract for a 60 megawatt demand response program with PNM, an investor-owned utility headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The new agreement is a pay-for-performance contract where Comverge is only compensated when specific results are achieved. The program will include direct install Wi-Fi thermostats as well as a bring your own thermostat (BYOT) approach using retail-purchased Wi-Fi thermostats.

The PLMA Spring Conference also showcased several Comverge clients speaking about our joint programs:
  • In 2015, Duke Energy Florida began transitioning the EnergyWise® Home residential demand response program from one-way paging communications to two-way Wi-Fi and cellular load control switches. At the PLMA Spring Conference, Duke Energy Florida shared lessons learned during this transition such as strategies for keeping devices connected and reducing complexity.
  • On a panel titled “Increasing Engagement with Small to Mid-Sized Business through an Integrated Demand-Side Management Program,” Navigant, Comverge and Duke shared insights on how to reach this underrepresented customer segment for demand-side management programs. A few of the best practices shared were to design customer centric programs that offer choice and have an easy to understand offer. And that face to face marketing gives you the best chance for success.
  • On a panel on Non-Wires Alternatives: Straight Outta Nashville, Central Hudson Gas & Electric discussed its Peak Perks demand response program that is designed to defer investments in new transmission and distribution infrastructure. 
During the conference, Central Hudson also received the PLMA Program Pacesetter award, which recognizes outstanding demand response programs. The program was recognized for its operational results, including greater than 30% participation (of eligible customers) within a zone where the need was most timely, in just six months – significantly faster than the three years it typically takes to achieve such a high rate of penetration. Central Hudson also exceeded the first-year MW target for all three zones.  This is the third year in a row a Comverge program has received this award, with Pepco Holdings program winning in 2015 and Duke Energy Florida winning in 2016.
 
One of the first panels at the conference featured leading industry groups sharing recent research. Here are some of the highlights:
  • E Source - gave a sneak preview of its Direct Load Control Program Benchmark 2016 study. Of the 33 programs listed, Comverge technology supported more of the programs than any other vendor.
  • Smart Electric Power Alliances (SEPA) – reported that 65% of utilities are interested in locational deployment of DR for non-wires grid upgrade deferrals – so clearly this is a growing trend.
  • Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) - Pricing plans appeal to 65% of consumers and 68% of consumers are interested in smart thermostat demand response programs.
The PLMA Spring Conference was an overwhelming success for Comverge and we are already looking forward to this year’s Fall Conference, taking place in Cambridge, MA.


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