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The Brattle Group’s Study Suggests Load Flexibility Can Reduce Costs by $15 Billion Annually

Brattle Group

Economists predict that by 2030 the load flexibility potential could reach three times the existing DR

The Brattle Group, distinguished by the clarity insights and credibility of analyzing complex economic, finance, and regulatory questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world, has released a new study. Economists at the company identify nearly 200 GW of cost-effective load flexibility potential in the U.S. by 2030. This load flexibility potential equates to 20% of the estimated U.S. peak load in 2030 would be worth more than $15 billion annually in avoided system costs. The capacity may reach to three times the existing demand response (DR).

Load flexibility- a key role to monitor

System continuously demands better efficiency and the needs are evolving, with a growing need for renewables integration and grid modernization. Load flexibility – the real-time controls the electricity usage at real-time to provide a range of grid services around the clock. This on-time solution can play a key role in addressing these new challenges.

Ryan Hledik, a Brattle principal and the study’s lead author, noted, “The potential for load flexibility to facilitate the transition to a decarbonized power system is remarkable and currently overlooked.” “Our study demonstrates the importance for utilities and regulators to look beyond conventional ‘DR 1.0’ options when analyzing new demand-side opportunities,” he admired.

The Brattle Study

The Brattle study using its LoadFLEX model and data from a representative sampling of utilities in the U.S., estimates:

  • Current DR capability of 60 GW could nearly double under current market conditions. This could gain 16 GW by simply modernizing conventional DR programs and an additional 40 GW by introducing new load flexibility programs and value streams.
  • Market transformation through 2030- including smart metering deployment, renewable generation adoption, and expansion of the transmission and distribution system- could unlock an additional increase of 80 GW.
  • The load flexibility could exceed $15 billion per year by 2030 benefiting nationwide. This could be driven by avoided investment in generation capacity, reduced energy costs, geographically- targeted transmission and distribution (T&D) investment deferral, and the provision of ancillary services.

The study concludes with three predictions:

The Brattle economists’ study predicts for the evolution of load flexibility initiatives over the next decade:

  • Utility load flexibility programs will become smarter before they get bigger, by first modernizing existing demand response programs to tap into their underutilized potential.
  • Residential load flexibility additions will exceed those of larger commercial and industrial customers, despite having only a 30% share of the current demand response market.
  • New regulatory incentives will be a primary driver of growth in load flexibility, due to renewed industry-wide interest in regulatory models that encourage utilities to pursue demand-side initiatives rather than capital investment in infrastructure.