Implementation of demand-side management (DSM) programs that prioritize load reductions when fossil-fuel assets are the marginal electricity generators, that prioritize load shifting when renewable resources are generating, and that establish a comprehensive on-site energy efficiency program that can be utilized across sectors to increase energy efficiency have the potential to reduce Nevada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While Nevada has multiple energy efficiency and demand response (DR) programs, it does not currently have DSM or DR programs that optimize management of electricity generated by renewables.
DSM programs consist of the planning, implementing, and monitoring activities of electric utilities that are designed to encourage customers to modify their level and pattern of electricity usage. DSM includes programs for energy efficiency and conservation, as well as programs that will produce benefits in peak demand and energy consumption. Energy efficiency encompasses the deployment of end-use appliances, such as higher-efficiency boilers and air conditioners, more-efficient lighting, and better-performing windows. Energy efficiency achieves the same or greater function to the customer (e.g., the refrigerator still keeps food cool), while reducing the energy required to achieve that result. DR programs reduce energy in response to either system reliability concerns or increased generation costs. DR generally must be measurable and controllable to be relied upon by the electric utility. DSM programs for both energy efficiency and conservation fall within the purview of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN).
A recent study commissioned by NV Energy indicates the utility is aware that shifting load from evening peak hours to daylight hours when solar is generating electricity could improve the value of solar resources. In related testimony, the consultant indicated that “changes in load could improve the Effective Load Carrying Capability (ELCC) of solar resources, thereby reducing the amount of solar capacity that must be added to ensure reliability.” He added that “[i]f the timing of high load events shifted from evening peak hours to daylight hours, either through building pre-cooling or other measures, then the ELCC for solar photovoltaics (PV) could increase.” This indicates that the utility needs to take action to more-effectively integrate large quantities of solar into its generation portfolio.
Nevada electric utilities must file a demand-side plan, which includes proposals for energy efficiency and conservation and DR programs as part of their integrated resource plan (IRP) with the PUCN on or before June 1 every three years. The next IRP is due June 1, 2021. The IRP must set forth a three-year action plan to meet demand for electric service in an efficient, reliable, and sustainable manner over a 20-year planning period.
The PUCN also establishes each utility’s goals for energy savings from energy-efficiency programs implemented each year. The goals set by the PUCN drive what is included in a demand-side plan, which must meet or exceed PUCN expectations. For the period January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2024, the amount of energy savings resulting from implementation of energy-efficiency programs by the electric utility must result in an average reduction of 1.1% of the forecasted weather normalized sales of the electric utility for that period. After January 1, 2025, the amount of energy savings is determined by the PUCN in an IRP order.