Fraunhofer and National Grid conducted a pilot study to evaluate the feasibility of a gas Demand Response (DR) program that compensates larger commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to reduce gas consumption during peak gas demand periods, i.e., 6 to 9AM on very cold days. If the gas distribution system cannot maintain target pressure levels, the gas distribution utility may need to invest in costly and disruptive system reinforcement projects (e.g., increasing pipeline size) or impose moratoriums on adding customers. The University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UML) committed four facilities to the pilot, and designed and implemented a portfolio of gas DR strategies, including zone pre-heating and reducing district water supply water temperature, global zone temperature set points,and ventilation air volumes during events. During three four-hour events, UML facilities successfully reduced gas demand by 33-41% relative to a heating-degree-hour baseline.
To understand how gas DR might be able to defer or supplant pipeline reinforcement projects, National Grid modeled distribution system pressure increases realized local C&I gas curtailment ranging from 10-30% for five completed projects. In three cases, gas DR achieved comparable system pressure increases to the reinforcement projects, with one having more favorable economics. This suggests that gas DR could potentially defer system reinforcement investments in certain localities.
Finally, recruiting C&I customers to participate in the pilot proved to be challenging. Survey responses and discussions with target C&I customers revealed several barriers to participation, including: lack of familiarity with gas DR; risk of disrupting operations; insufficient compensation levels; concerns about utility direct-load control of gas-fired devices; and a lack of proven methods to effectively curtail gas consumption.
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