Folsom, CA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- July 30, 2009 - The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has launched a pilot project that allows consumers to offer up their demand for electricity in the same way a power plant offers to produce more electricity.

Large water pumps operated by the state have long participated in the ISO energy market because the electricity-run pumps are easy to turn on and off when needed to help meet grid reliability needs. Now, through advanced metering and automation technology, the ISO is opening its market to a broad cross section of residential and industrial customers so that they can bid into the ISO market in the same way.

The three investor-owned utilities in California (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric), in collaboration with the ISO, have each developed demand response projects totaling about 13 MW of load curtailment capability dispatchable by the ISO.

PG&E has recruited large consumers, such as IKEA, that will offer to curtail the electricity used in their businesses. SCE has enrolled Fort Irwin, a U.S. Army base near Barstow, which will reduce electrical load by cycling residential air-conditioning units. SDG&E is bidding into the ISO market by aggregating small commercial and industrial customer load.

“We are breaking down barriers for consumers to bid into our market in a unique way that allows retail customer electrical load to compete alongside conventional power plants to provide operating reserves that act as standby power,” said California ISO vice president of market and infrastructure development Laura Manz. “Just like a generator, these demand response resources are fully integrated into and visible through our automated energy management system and dispatched when needed.”

The project is expected to help the ISO and the utilities develop more effective demand response, and it will also gather data that will help demand response deployment to offset the fluctuations of wind and solar power production.