Honeywell is helping manage demand response programs for two new utility customers — Westar Energy in Topeka, Kan. and We Energies in Milwaukee, Wis. The programs, funded through contracts worth a combined $16.5 million, will help lower customer energy bills, and decrease consumption when demand on the electrical grid and production costs peak. As a result, the utilities can help stabilize prices and reduce the need to build additional power plants.
The Westar Energy program launched in July 2009 and Honeywell started work with We Energies in August of the same year. The company is providing comprehensive marketing and call center services for both programs. Honeywell is also installing load-management technology — smart thermostats and switches — that enables the utilities to cycle air conditioners in participating homes on and off for brief intervals.
The resulting change in temperature is negligible, however, it gives the utility the ability to better manage consumption on hot days when energy use spikes and strains the grid.
“Utilities are tasked with managing consumption in the face of increasing peak demand and fiscal concerns, and these programs are ideal examples of how it can be done effectively,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “Honeywell provides the expertise and technology to successfully deliver demand response programs, which are essential to managing the energy grid and keeping electricity affordable.”
Westar Energy’s WattSaver demand response program, which targets residential and small commercial customers in central and eastern Kansas, aims to reduce the utility’s electric load by up to 30 MW over the next three years.
Customers who enroll receive a free, professionally installed Honeywell UtilityPRO — a new touchscreen thermostat designed specifically for demand response programs. UtilityPRO includes wireless technology that allows Westar Energy to communicate with the thermostats and cycle air conditioners on the hottest days in June through September.
In return, homeowners and businesses get a top-of-the-line thermostat, and access to an online energy management system that can lower utility bills up to 20 percent. The thermostat’s intuitive logic and menu-driven programming help increase energy savings while maintaining comfort. UtilityPRO also offers features unique to demand response thermostats like touchscreen interaction and a large, easy-to-read backlit display.
Honeywell’s three-year contract with We Energies extends the utility’s existing Energy Partners program for residential customers in southeastern Wisconsin. The utility aims to double the number of participants and will use more than 30,000 switches connected directly to central air conditioners to help manage peak load. The program is expected to save 38 MW through 2011.
In addition, the utility is piloting more than 3000 UtilityPRO thermostats as part of its broader smart grid initiative.
The contracts build on Honeywell’s expertise in demand response. The company’s Utility Solutions business, part of Honeywell Building Solutions, has helped provide similar programs for more than 20 utilities in the United States and Canada, including Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Kansas City Power & Light and Hydro Ottawa.
Honeywell specializes in all aspects of residential demand response from program design and load-management technology to customer recruitment and support. The company was also one of only four non-utility companies to receive a Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant will help support a critical peak pricing response program that will help commercial and industrial facilities in California automatically implement energy management strategies to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Honeywell has given utilities the ability to manage a combined total of more than 1 gigawatt of peak energy consumption, which is equivalent to the generation capacity of approximately 20 gas-fired peaking plants. It also provides smart grid, and energy- and water-conservation solutions to utilities.