Guide to choosing a demand response provider

If you’re new to demand response (DR), you may be wondering where to start when thinking about which program you’ll choose to participate in, your reduction strategy for event days — and how you’ll get paid. When shopping for a DR program administrator, there are a few points you want to keep in mind to make sure they’re the right fit for your needs.

The energy industry can be complicated, and you might think your options are limited to what larger companies have told you about DR – after all, they’re the guys with the insider knowledge, right? Program administrators might be in the loop when it comes to industry-specific guidelines and policies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your homework and select the best program for your business.

The fact of the matter is DR program administrators need participants. If they don’t have a happy list of clients to call on grid event days, they aren’t going to be successful. This is good news for businesses, because it means you can be selective in your decision-making. We recommend considering the following points as they apply to your business before signing with a DR program administrator.

1. Reduction strategy

Industry-specific strategies for reduction are an important part of program participation that often gets overlooked by larger, less involved program administrators. When researching your options, it’s important to look at a company’s protocol for designing personalized reduction strategies for a variety of businesses. Some program administrators will even send an engineer to your facility to look at your individual opportunities for reduction – free of charge.

2. Communication style

Successful demand response programs work because there is a mutual interest in reducing electricity and making a profit. Three solid relationships administrators need in order to maximize their program’s potential:

a. Customers

b. Local utilities

c. Power authorities

If it seems like the company you’re looking at operates independent of any of these three groups, they’re doing something wrong. Demand response is heavily reliant on cooperation and communication, so make sure you’re picking a company with those same values.

3. Post-event reporting

So let’s say you’ve found a program administrator that suits your criteria. They have a thorough approach to planning and preparation with their clients – and their track record for event day communication is solid. But how well do they communicate with their participants after event season is over? Since we’re going to assume that travelling into the future isn’t an option, there are a few easy ways you can spot a good provider before signing anything.

First questions to ask when reviewing DR program providers:

a. Does the company have an online, live chat or hotline resource for current program participants?

b. Is the company contracted to work with utilities in partially restructured markets? Regulated markets? What about special situations?

c. Are participants able to cross-reference their performance during events with their payout at the end of the season?

d. Will the program administrator install a shadow meter at your facility for you to monitor your electricity usage?

Demand response is an easy way for businesses to bring in extra revenue and help protect the electric grid. You’ve likely already decided that DR sounds like something your business could benefit from – and now it’s merely a decision of which program is right for you. We hope this short guide has helped get you started on asking the right questions and ultimately choosing the DR program that best fits your company’s goals for responsible energy management.

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