Exploring PJM: Energy Efficiency in Load Forecasting

Exploring-PJM-IconCan one light-emitting diode lightbulb have much of an impact on forecasting the demand for energy?

Of course not – but hundreds of thousands of LED lightbulbs? That’s something different altogether.

Those lightbulbs – and energy efficiency in all its forms – are changing the electric utility business. The impact of energy efficiency is driving a decrease in the annual load forecast, according to Tom Falin, manager – Resource Adequacy.

From institutional programs to individual consumer use of efficient appliances, energy efficiency has reached a level that can be measured in terms of overall power use. PJM uses data from the Energy Information Administration as well as data from the electric distribution companies on their energy efficiency saturation. Once a year, the EIA publishes the Annual Energy Outlook.

The most important process change was adding variables that reflected behavioral trends, including significant customer behavior changes post-2010.

“Clearly, we were missing something,” said Falin. “Specifically, it was the gains from the use of more efficient lighting, air conditioning/heating, electronics and industrial processes.”

As a result, PJM changed some of its load forecasting methods. The new modeling results in an estimated 3.2 percent lower load forecast for 2018 from the 2015 forecast.

PJM found that increased use of efficient technology contributed to the breakdown in the relationship between economics and electricity demand. “It’s salient to everything we do going forward,” said Falin, “and that’s why people should care.”

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Not Your Great-Grandmother’s Icebox

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the ENERGY STAR program in 1992. It is a voluntary program that identifies and promotes energy-efficient products and buildings and helps improve efficiency performance across more than 60 product categories.

According to the EIA, in 1993, American homes consumed an average of 103.6 million BTUs of energy. By 2009, that figure dropped to 89.6 million BTUs – a 14 percent decrease.

On its website, ENERGY STAR states that a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer that has earned the ENERGY STAR uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.