IDROP

Overview

How to mathematically guarantee the least cost, optimal set of dynamic dispatching signals for your customers

Optimize demand dispatching alongside your local distributed resources, including appliances, electric vehicles, solar, wind, and storage. Even without smart meters.

Most utilities still cling to traditional “top down” system operations where generation and transmission assets react to changing loads in real time. Any imbalances result in disruptive customer impacts, higher operating costs, large capital expenditures, and potential over investment to ensure reliability. IDROP changes that paradigm by providing direct choreography of distributed loads and resources so optimal balances between supply and demand can be achieved by tweaking specific demands in certain ways. This creates a virtual storage capability that levels demand without changing energy.

With IDROP you can now proactively predict loads, control their shapes, and manage demand in the same way you handle generation resources, but you can do so from the demand side. Instead of traditional load following, IDROP allows you to do plant following, wind following, and even cloud following (for solar intermittency). It also lets you optimize your assets more effectively by enabling small, virtually unnoticeable shifts in customer demands. And what’s more, smart meter signaling is not actually necessary since IDROP works with any in-home load control device via broadband, wireless or other options.

IDROP allows you to cost effectively manage system load costs through its patented dispatching engine that couples a sophisticated set of algorithms with energy management applications that provide you with the mathematically guaranteed least cost option. It also forecasts and controls actual end-use loads, subject to constantly shifting factors such as customer needs, solar or wind availability, EV charge needs, and existing storage options. And it adjusts loads based on varying price signals (or estimated costs in non-ISO markets), grid needs, and/or new program opportunities.

In most cases, it is far more effective to utilize potential demand rather than investing in expensive storage or generation. And the more successfully you choreograph your resources, the lower your system marginal costs become. IDROP uses industry-leading financial valuation methods and IA’s fast and highly detailed analytical engines to accurately value blended combinations of energy efficiency and demand response options. This allows you to create optimal portfolios in real time, specific to your context, your customers, your weather, and your costs. Plus IDROP knows immediately (or every 1 to 5 minutes) which set of dispatching strategies are most cost-effective under changing weather patterns, variable grid constraints, and forward market price scenarios.

If you are not valuing your strategies and resources in this way, then you’re probably grossly undervaluing them. To date IDROP has demonstrated peak load reductions of 9% to 30% through changes so small that no customer has noticed any impact or loss of comfort. Of course, IDROP can also help you optimally reduce energy, in which case it has demonstrated cost savings of two to four times more value than traditional demand response paradigms that work with simple peak and off peak periods.

The unprecedented level of insight and control that you get with IDROP means load management is no longer just a reliability play or an emergency tactic. When you use IDROP, load management also becomes an efficiency play, as well as a cost management strategy, that helps balance supply and demand in real time, reduce costs, enhance distribution resource efficiency, and maximize customer satisfaction.

How IDROP Works

How IDROP Works

IDROP is like the Solver tool in Excel, but it’s faster, more powerful, and far more comprehensive. It performs a series of forecasting, simulation, and optimization algorithms that crunch millions of data points in real time to generate optimized dispatching solutions that are mathematically guaranteed to be the lowest cost. Its solutions tell you which resources to shift, increase or decrease at 1 to 5 minute intervals, and it can project solutions for up to a two week forecast. Of course, accuracy improves as weather forecasts become more accurate. It also improves with daily downloads of your smart meter data.

More specifically, IDROP aggregates a variety of system-level inputs, such as expected loads and market prices, margins, carbon dioxide, predicted weather, etc., and marries them with customer–level energy consumption data, customer-established constraints, compliance histories, and the specific needs of the grid or at local sections of circuits. It then simulates thousands of combinations of controllable distributed resources, ranging from renewables generation (wind, solar, etc.) and grid level batteries to electric vehicles and in-home appliances in order to determine the optimal combination of choreography for these resources. For instance, IDROP might start one customer’s air conditioning a few minutes early, and hold off on starting another customer’s water heater for a couple of minutes, or charge a third customer’s electric vehicle for a pre-set 30 minute duration. In signaling these micro-level “tweaks,” IDROP optimally choreographs and schedules how and when energy is used. This leads to improved voltage, a significantly more stable overall circuit load, and an ability to actually conduct plant following (bringing plants up to their operating sweet spot faster). All of which provide significant value to the utility beyond simply the energy and ancillary markets.

Moreover, instead of sub-optimizing to only one factor or one end use (e.g. MWH cost or one home appliance), IDROP’s solutions allow multiple key parameters to be co-optimized in real time (customers’ bills, comfort, energy conservation, capital expenditures, cost of service, grid stability and peak demand). This results in optimal load shaping in the truest sense of demand-side management. And importantly, in applying your dispatching strategies across the system or collection of homes, you will realize significantly more value than if you simply allowed each home to minimize its own demand. When you adjust homes individually customers tend to notice the reductions. For example, they realize they can’t run the dryer at same time as AC. With IDROP’s broader optimizations, customers don’t notice interruptions, since you have so many loads you can optimize. Of course, you can incorporate home-by-home demand minimization as part of IDROP’s dispatching if you want, but we recommend thinking more strategically about the overall value you’d be leaving on the table in doing so.

Because IDROP’s analytics engine is uniquely able to jointly dispatch both customer end uses and distributed resources, it can dispatch combinations of resources such as electric vehicles in concert with renewable generation resources, such as solar panels or react to incoming wind. Or IDROP can adjust air conditioning duty cycles within customers’ pre-set tolerances in response to changing weather conditions that mitigate the intermittency of solar PV panels or the wind. Moreover, system planners can count on reductions and shaping of the load in firmer, geographically precise way than traditional demand response has historically delivered.

And because IDROP operates outside of normal systems you don’t have to worry about “integration risk.” Your Distribution Management System will see the improved voltage and levelized load, and then perform its own optimizations to improve circuit operations even more. Running IDROP outside of normal systems also allows you to quickly test customer offers at low cost without long-term contracts or expensive IT integrations. Plus, IDROP can run in parallel with Smart Grid systems, using the daily downloads of usage, or it can operate without any Smart Grid data, which saves on integration costs while performing customer testing and operational experimentation.

Why Use IDROP

Why IDROP?

In short, because IDROP greatly increases the Smart Grid value proposition.

IDROP’s unprecedented data analysis, dispatch algorithms, and analytical platform provide the functionality necessary for customers’ loads to be used in supply planning while still honoring their preferences for comfort and control.

IDROP forecasts every load under control at five minute intervals for two weeks at a time. As prices change it re-optimizes and choreographs loads without customer actions so peaks can be reduced, loads can be optimized, and cost to serve customers can be minimized.

By shifting load off peak, IDROP helps you operate your system in a flatter load profile with smaller peaks and valleys. The levelizing of load also allows generating units to run in their sweet spots, which makes them more efficient and uses less fuel. This saves on maintenance and capital expenditures and reduces emissions.

IDROP also makes it easier to incorporate renewable assets such as solar and wind generation by managing their volatile and inconsistent nature. For example if the output of a solar PV array drops off when the sun goes behind a cloud, IDROP can make real time adjustments to the controllable load to balance supply and demand. This maintains reliability so customers don’t see the fluctuation in supply.

To reduce your risks IDROP’s forecasts show the exact costs and benefits associated with each option, telling you specifically how the savings are achieved. Not only does IDROP determine if a resource will be able to generate power needed, it also forecasts what the load would have been so you can calculate the savings.

What is more, IDROP can dispatch appliances in small, unobtrusive ways, enabling you to design innovative new customer programs and offers. For example, many customers want to lock in a targeted, guaranteed bill to limit bill volatility, but they fear the disruptions of demand response, the price swings of time of use, or the pain caused by interruptible rates. IDROP addresses these concerns while allowing you to control the risk, so you can increase customer satisfaction with bill certainty and improve overall system efficiencies without the need for moral hazard premiums.

Plus, IDROP is always available. It can be dispatched at any time and it has no limit on the number of events like traditional demand response programs do. And thanks to IDROP’s seamless choreography customers don’t even notice that their loads have been controlled.

IDROP also measures, verifies and reports details about how customer segments (or even individual customers) respond to various offers. That means you can reach out to new customers and run tests to track the effectiveness of offers ranging from high-involvement and active time-of-use to low-involvement options where you manage energy for your customers. By layering IDROP’s dispatching engine on a home area network, even low-involvement customers who don’t monitor real-time prices can participate by opting in to allow IDROP to manage their pre-set participation for them.