An energy management program that paid off in reduced power consumption and lower consumer costs for energy earned the City of Anaheim Public Utilities Department the 2004 award for Best Demand Response Initiative from the Energy Planning Network.

Anaheim's Spare the Power Program, which ran in the late summer of 2004, provided energy consumers with the information and incentives needed to significantly reduce electricity consumption during hot summer afternoons when air conditioners and other power-draining activities are at their peak.

The pilot was prompted by California's energy crisis and a need for effective demand-side management tools. With programs already in place for large commercial customers, Anaheim wanted to explore ways to provide residential customers with the same ability to closely monitor and manage energy consumption within their homes.

Anaheim invited 150 randomly chosen customers to participate in the program. Homes were equipped with advanced electric meters that recorded energy consumption data in 15-minute intervals. Customers who lowered consumption between noon and 6:00 pm on a Spare the Power Day received a $0.35 per kilowatt hour rebate (compared to baseline usage). The standard rate is $0.11 per kWh. Those who did not reduce consumption were not rebated. Customer feedback shows strong support for the program. Preliminary data indicated load reductions in the range of 20% during critical peak events.

Detailed analysis will be performed on completion of the second phase of the program in summer 2005.

Advanced metering and communication technology was employed in order to provide Anaheim and its customers with the information they need to make smart consumption decisions.

Data was collected daily from the meters using the Tantalus Utility Network(tm) (TUNet(tm)), a wireless, two-way data communications network. TUNet enabled Anaheim to relay data from each home to the operations center where it was warehoused. Analysts could, in turn, use the data to determine baselines and energy curtailment on specific days when the customers were requested via phone and email to reduce their usage.

Redwood, California-based eMeter Corporation (an energy software and services company) and Stanford University designed and conducted the pilot, which involved customer recruitment, meter installation, data management, project management, and other services needed to complete the pilot. Stanford University economists are evaluating customer load reductions.

"Our long-term goal is to provide dynamic pricing information to all 94,000 residential electric meters within our service territory," says Rick Morella, who led the Anaheim team. "This project serves as a case study for how innovative rate programs and new technology can create more astute energy consumers. Advanced notice of critical peak periods armed homeowners with the information they need to reduce their electricity bill. What's more, reduced demand relieves the pressure to generate more energy or buy it from the expensive spot market. I call that an all-around win."