John Gardner was part of a panel discussion focused on the future of the state’s energy portfolio. The event was part of the Idaho Business Review’s breakfast series on energy in Idaho. Gardner discussed the demand side of the energy grid.
“You have this fundamental model about the grid, which is we get to use it anytime, anywhere, no matter what, and the utilities have to respond. I think that’s something that’s worth challenging and worth rethinking. It all falls in this broad area called demand response, which we have in Idaho. Idaho Power uses the Cool Credit program as an example of that. To my mind and to the research community, that’s the tip of the iceberg. Once we have this smart grid and this internet of things, there’s a huge potential to coordinate things that are what we’d call non-time sensitive, such as thermostatically controlled growth which is electric water, freezer, refrigerator and your home thermostat. You move through a couple degrees variation between when the AC turns on and off so you’re used to that already. Bumping that in a coordinated way a few tenths of a degree can make a huge difference in accommodating things like when the wind suddenly dies, so you don’t need a days’ worth of storage to accommodate that. But you need 15 or 20 minutes headway so the utilities can scramble and fix that. The demand side can be a big part of that.”