Graduate Project


Demand flexibility and residential electricity time-of-use pricing in Fremont, CA Public Deposited

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  • The biggest obstacle to a 100% renewable energy utility portfolio is the ability to produce enough electricity to meet peak demand windows, which typically occur in the late afternoon to evening period from 3 pm to 9 pm. A popular policy option to reduce peak demand is time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates, which charge higher rates during peak usage windows and lower rates in other periods. The success of this policy depends on energy consumption being elastic, an assumption that misconstrues how electricity is consumed in households and may not hold for all energy-using activities. To assess the flexibility of residential electricity consumption, I conducted a survey of 337 households in Fremont, California – a community slated for a transition to TOU rates. Exploratory analysis aimed to understand the types of activities households typically performed in the peak energy period, which activities households were most willing to shift, and if more flexible households were similar in terms of their demographics, home characteristics, and level of energy engagement. Findings suggest that the most commonly occurring activities in the peak window, such as watching television and cooking dinner, were also the most difficult for households to shift. Activities such as doing laundry and running the dishwasher, while occurring less frequently among households, were the activities that households were most willing to shift. Although some factors were found to be associated with households performing more energy-using activities in the peak demand window, the distinctions between flexible and inflexible households were harder to characterize, as almost all potential predictors had no significant associations. Overall, these findings offer insight for evaluating the public response to TOU pricing policies by examining activity-level flexibility instead of overall load.
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