CEEIC Spring Educational Symposium

May 9, 2016

By Kara Downey

As a member of Opinion Dynamics’ Data Science Group, my work focuses on non-traditional projects with non-traditional data.  Attending the California Energy Efficiency Industry Council’s (CEEIC) one-day symposium, held May 3 in Berkeley, provided a timely update on the challenges and issues regarding the integration of EE and DR into California’s distributed energy future.

Kara Downey, Energy Data Scientist

Kara Downey, Energy Data Scientist

About 150 professionals were in attendance including a contingent from Opinion Dynamics: Meg Matt, Executive Vice President (and CEEIC board member), Managing Director Hannah Arnold and Sharyn Barata, Senior Vice President, Industry Engagement.

The speakers included representatives from California utilities, grid operators, regulators, implementers and evaluators. I heard two clear themes emerge: variability in the grid is only going to grow; and flexibility in program design, implementation, and evaluation will be critical to successfully meet this challenge. The growth of solar and other distributed resources among utility customers, the appearance of new strains on the grid (hello, electric cars!), and the expansion of advanced metering infrastructure and the wealth of data it provides, all contribute to the changes to the energy efficiency landscape.

This exceptional event was a full-blown course on distributed energy resources and how they interact with demand response and energy efficiency programs. I was fully engaged in the presentations, as evidenced by my 14 pages of notes!  A few of the symposium’s highlights included:

  • How does DER affect grid stability, and how using demand response programs to increase, as well as decrease load at certain times, may addressed these challenges
  • Experiments in using energy efficiency as a grid resource
  • Customer perspectives on participating in DR programs
  • An incredibly helpful overview of the myriad policies and proceedings that affect DER, DR, and EE programs in California

The symposium closed with a keynote from Ed Randolph, Director of the CPUC Energy Division, who had just returned from the New Orleans Jazz Festival. His clever and informative presentation used jazz as a metaphor for California’s energy future. Citing the growth of renewables and increasing climate variability, he said (with the right set of “instruments”) an orchestra of demand response and energy efficiency programs—can result in a beautiful piece of music.

The Opinion Dynamics team left the symposium invigorated to continue our work delivering all the right “notes” to our clients.