Tallahassee Automated Demand Response Program, Tallahassee, FL

Comprehensive energy-saving city government programme

In collaboration with the City of Tallahassee, Florida, and Honeywell, Arup designed and implemented PeakSmart, one of the world’s first and most comprehensive automated demand response programmes. The voluntary programme automates the process of curtailing the energy needs of participating customers during peak events on the electric grid.

When the City of Tallahassee Utility anticipates a PeakSmart event, typically during a time when electricity demand is high due to unusually hot or cold days, “Your Own Utilities” notifies participants a day ahead of the event. However, in rare emergency situations, the notice may only arrive ten minutes ahead. When a PeakSmart event begins, a signal is sent to a participating building's energy management system to carry out predetermined energy saving directives. For commercial customers this may mean that unessential lighting is curtailed or that HVAC settings and other equipment are adjusted to reduce the building's energy demands until the event subsides. For convenience, PeakSmart customers can manually opt out if they are unable to participate in a demand response event. The number of events per year is limited, and each peak event lasts no longer than two to four hours.

Arup provided smart-grid energy consulting, building energy auditing, and the Auto-DR Program design and development. The advanced metering infrastructure installed for the programme offers users and the city more current information about energy use. The traditional power metering was like driving a car with an odometer. The new system gives users and the customer a speedometer as well, thus encouraging and allowing more substantive options for effective energy management in near-real time.

Breaking down the benefits of PeakSmart

The PeakSmart programme allows for both kilowatt savings and participant cost savings. The programme helps ensure that energy is provided in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, even during moments of unusually high usage. It also provides better monitoring and managing of electric demand, while also allowing the utility to defer expensive power plant construction. 

Participants can enrol for free and the City of Tallahassee will cover the upfront equipment and installation costs. Participants can also receive the same monthly credit, regardless of peak events. Finally, the programme allows its users to identify future energy-saving opportunities through the near-real time monitoring of energy consumption.