Thursday, June 19, 2008

A day with the California Energy Commission

Today I spent in Sacramento (yes, it was close to 100 degrees) with the commissioners of the CEC who presided over the Efficiency Committee Load Management Standards Workshop on Enabling Technologies.

The meeting was overtly to talk about "Demand Response" technologies -- that is, technologies that can temporarily reduce commercial, industrial and/or residential power loads during critical periods of the day (especially during the summer). This is important to "level-out" the demand placed on the electrical grid - and avoid having to over-build generation/transmission capabilities.

Why was this so interesting? three reasons....

One was that it was a great opportunity to hear what officials from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), Lawrence Berkeley Labs, PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Sacramental Muni had to say about technologies they're considering.

Two was the opportunity to see a number of vendors (Cassatt Included) present and demonstrate some cool ideas for curbing industrial and residential loads - - smart/programmable thermostats etc., Not to mention the various wired, satellite, Wimax, FM, and other really innovative ways for signaling "events" to these devices over wide areas (think: States).

Three (and most interesting to this author) was that the majority of "new" technologies were focused on the residential market -- smart thermostats and the like. To my surprise, essentially none of the technologies addressed the 60 gigawatthours of energy being consumed by data centers or ways to either permanently curb this number, or at least to curtail it during "demand response" events.

I'll be following-up with attendees, including officials from the major California utilities (who drive their Demand Response programs) to see how we can help reduce the energy consumption and wasted power in large data centers.

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