As wholesale electricity markets across the United States are opened to participation by demand-side resources, military installations will have an opportunity to participate and thereby receive energy reduction, cost savings, and energy security benefits that are made available through this participation. Market participation requires automating their response to signals received from grid operators and electric utilities. Automation is made possible by applying a key industry standard for automated demand response (Open Automated Demand Response [OpenADR]). This technology enables installations to reduce the electric demand of selected demand-side resources—for example, by reducing (or shutting off) selected building equipment (e.g., heating and air conditioning equipment, lighting, etc.) as well as miscellaneous motor loads.

The objective of this project was to demonstrate the use of OpenADR technology to enable Fort Irwin to participate in the wholesale electricity market. The original plan was to utilize an anticipated ancillary services pilot program to be offered by the electric utility provider for Fort Irwin. However, due to regulatory delays no wholesale demand response (DR) programs were available to utilize in the project’s 2014 demonstration at Fort Irwin. For that reason, the project plan was revised to utilize the utility’s retail demand bidding program (DBP) to demonstrate the application of OpenADR.

Technology Description

OpenADR provides the needed automation link between the utility or grid operator and a set of pre-programmed (automated) DR strategies in the building owner’s building energy management system (BMS) and thereby to the individual loads. This automated communication technology effectively joins an installation’s BMS with utility or grid operator DR programs. DR control strategies are implemented in the installation’s BMS to adjust the operation of building loads in response to DR event commands from the utility or grid operator via the Demand Response Automation Server. On a military installation, candidate electric loads for DR programs include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, lighting, water pumping, and other miscellaneous motor loads.

A military installation can participate in a DR program by offering (bidding) their demand-side resources via the utility’s DR website. The bids offer stated amounts of electric demand reduction (in kilowatts [kW]) and specific hours of the day, depending on the type of DR program. The economic benefits of reducing electric demand are defined in the utility DR tariff, which in the future might also be based in part by prices in the wholesale electricity market. The bid can be modified (and can be resubmitted) as conditions change at the military installation. If desired, the bid can be considered a standing bid, which is valid until changed by the installation. If the operating conditions (and any special constraints) at the installation are unchanged, it may not be necessary to update the bid each day.

Demonstration Results

Following a DR audit of a number of candidate buildings at Fort Irwin, the OpenADR communications and control technology was implemented for a set of selected electric loads at the installation (central cooling plant chillers). Utilizing the utility’s DBP program as a demonstration vehicle, the project generated performance data for acceptance and validation of OpenADR technology.

The demonstration testing covered the 2014 DBP event season fairly well, with a combination of simulated events as well as scheduled DBP events that occurred during the demonstration period. The measured baseline and test data was sufficient to enable the project team to perform a comparison against the project performance objectives.

The test hypothesis acceptance criteria stated that (by employing OpenADR communication and control technology) DR controlled equipment can accurately follow commands that are issued by the pre-programmed demand response control strategies during a DBP event. The sampling results showed that the current limit commands (sent to the chillers) and the resulting chiller percent (%) rated load amps showed very good tracking by the equipment during the DBP events.

Based on data collected during the demonstration period, the project team was able to show that OpenADR communication and control technology can effectively enable a military installation to respond to commands from utility and electric grid operators (and thereby participate in electricity markets).

Implementation Issues

Revenues received from participation in the electricity markets (e.g., through utility bill credits) can provide a significant new source of funding that a military installation can use to procure improvements to its energy infrastructure. These infrastructure improvements provide a means to achieve future energy and sustainability objectives.

Implementation issues that should be investigated as part of a DR audit include:

  • Implementing OpenADR technology and interfacing with an existing BMS at the military installation. This is not a significant concern, because almost any BMS can interface with OpenADR.
  • Technical design required for extensions to the military communications network at the installation to connect to the DR controlled loads (if required).
  • Costs for the BMS supplier to acquire a Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process or Authorization to Operate Certification (if not already in place).
  • Arrangements with a qualified DR controls provider, DR aggregator, or other consultant to perform an upfront DR audit of the installation, to identify the DR control opportunities, assess the economic potential, and assist in project planning.

These implementation issues are site-specific and must be addressed in planning a DR project.