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For decades, policymakers and program designers have gone on the assumption that large customers, particularly industrial facilities, are the best candidates for real-time pricing (RTP). This assumption is based partly on practical considerations (large customers can provide potentially large load reductions) but also on the premise that businesses focused on production cost minimization are most likely to participate and respond to opportunities for bill savings. Yet few studies have examined the actual price response of large industrial and commercial customers in a disaggregated fashion, nor have factors such as the impacts of demand response (DR) enabling technologies, simultaneous emergency DR program participation and price response barriers been fully elucidated.
This second-phase case study of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (NMPC)’s large customer RTP tariff addresses these information needs. The results demonstrate the extreme diversity of large customers’ response to hourly varying prices. While two-thirds exhibit some price response, about 20% of customers provide 75-80% of the aggregate load reductions. Manufacturing customers are most price-responsive as a group, followed by government/education customers, while other sectors are largely unresponsive. However, individual customer response varies widely. Currently, enabling technologies do not appear to enhance hourly price response; customers report using them for other purposes. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)’s emergency DR programs enhance price response, in part by signaling to customers that day-ahead prices are high. In sum, large customers do currently provide moderate price response, but there is significant room for improvement through targeted programs that help customers develop and implement automated load-response strategies.