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Grid-Edge Intelligence Creates Member Behavior Change and Operational Improvement

May 18, 2022
Holy Cross Energy is focusing on acquiring renewable energy resources and facilitating the adoption of Distributed Energy Resources.

Holy Cross Energy (HCE) is leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future. As a Colorado-based electric co-op, we set the goal of increasing the renewable electricity we provide to our members to 100% by 2030 and to offset our greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2035 altogether.

To reach this goal, we’re focusing on acquiring renewable energy resources and facilitating the adoption of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) among our members. But the lack of visibility on how smart electrification sources (such as electric vehicles, heating and cooling equipment, PV, and energy storage) impacts the grid presented a challenge. The grid insight we wanted to see was near-real-time energy data from electric meters and grid-edge voltage data. But we needed faster data than AMI meter infrastructure could deliver.

HCE also knew that enlisting the active support of our members would be vital to gathering insight into actual grid usage and impact. Still, we needed their help without increasing their costs or reducing reliability and safety. We already had a Peak-Time Payback (PTP) program, which offered bill credits for energy usage reduction. And while it is an effective program for targeted demand response, we realized we needed additional tools to prepare for the DER future.

As a mountain utility with a diverse geographic territory, HCE observes unique usage patterns and winter peaks driven by electric heating, increased visitor numbers, and snow management, including blowers and heat tape.

Using Copper Labs, a solution that delivers near-real-time data from our members’ electric, gas and water meters, HCE can evaluate our members’ energy usage and analyze how their behavior changed when provided with real-time, personalized insights.

HCE members who used Copper were twice as likely to voluntarily reduce their energy usage when prompted by the Copper app than HCE members who weren’t using Copper. The reduction was true regardless of a member’s PTP bill credit program enrollment. The personalized feedback coming from Copper was more compelling to our members than was the promise of a personal financial incentive. Personalization ultimately meant lower peak time energy usage and a lower service cost.

But to move forward on our path to 100% renewable energy by 2030, we needed more than just reduced usage by our members. We also needed to understand and manage our changing grid to build more reliable projections, future planning and better operations. The near-real-time data provided by Copper gives us valuable insight.

With Copper, HCE can see what’s happening behind the member’s meter and detect and respond to DER anomalies at specific locations on the system in near-real-time. Copper helps HCE make more informed decisions for managing energy supply and demand.

Other results we’ve seen using Copper technology and software include 2x peak usage reduction, increased member satisfaction and lower bills, enhanced voltage detection, and better operational agility.

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