August 8, 2016

Over twenty years time, CEE has developed a strong relationship with the Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute—AHRI. Together they tackled efficiency for the largest residential energy end use: HVAC. This work resulted in nationally consistent specifications, joint leverage of the ENERGY STAR® brand, an ANSI Quality Installation specification, QI Verification Protocols, and the CEE Directory of Efficient Equipment.

Now, a new ANSI standard is underway. Led by an AHRI committee comprising HVAC manufactures, utilities, and CEE staff, work is progressing on defining the features for an efficient, communicating air conditioner. Two key factors are important to utilities: the specification must require that equipment communicates through open standards and is capable of load management, including automated demand response. Called Methods for Coordinated Demand Response in Variable Capacity Residential and Small Commercial HVAC Equipment, the new standard is expected to become the basis for use in voluntary DSM programs and offer clarity to manufacturers about the performance and functionality that is likely to yield grid benefits.

Connected devices have the potential to generate multiple benefits for manufacturers, customers, and utilities. For example, many utilities only experience summer peak loads a few days of the year. At the same time, environmental and economic pressures are forcing the closure of power generating plants, especially older, coal-fired plants, limiting utility ability to solve the peak load issue. While generation from renewable sources, particularly solar and wind, provides some alternatives, these sources are inherently intermittent, which presents additional challenges to utilities attempting to meet their peak load demand, and may create new peaks and valleys that must be balanced.

Enhanced load management is important at the ISO level, too. For example, the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage transmission lines that make up 80 percent of the state’s power grid. CAISO has identified a growing need for operational flexibility as more energy is produced from variable renewable sources, especially solar power that is available only during daylight hours.

While every utility’s load pattern is different, there is a growing need for a more effective tool to address summer peak loads and balance renewable generation. Millions of HVAC units are on some type of demand response “cycling” program today, but the HVAC systems that meet the new standard will be able to replace or expand these cycling programs.

Interested? Stay tuned for a public comment period.

If you are a CEE member, you can join the CEE Connected Committee to provide input throughout the process. The CEE Board chose to share the financial costs of developing the standard with AHRI, and Southern California Edison and Duke are the CEE members representing the DSM industry.

About CEE
CEE is an award-winning consortium of efficiency program administrators from the United States and Canada. Members work to unify program approaches across jurisdictions to increase the success of efficiency in markets. By joining forces at CEE, individual electric and gas efficiency programs are able to partner not only with each other, but also with other industries, trade associations, and government agencies. Working together, administrators leverage the effect of their ratepayer funding, exchange information on successful practices and, by doing so, achieve greater energy efficiency for the public good.