Go back

Strategies for preparing for summer demand response

Strategies for preparing for summer demand response

Summer is here and with it comes an increased demand for energy due to extreme weather conditions. This combined with the rise in electrification across the country creates a challenge for utilities to tackle unprecedented load growth and lessen pressure on the grid. 

Utilities can prepare by encouraging customers to engage with demand response events through strong customer engagement. This article explores how utilities can get ready for the summer season and ensure their customers are prepared to participate.


How utilities can be ready 

Utilities can effectively manage summer load peaks by ensuring their demand response programs are ready when the need arises. This preparation includes:

  • Infrastructure readiness: Utilities can confirm their distributed energy resource management software for monitoring and managing events is ready to handle peak loads by updating device groups and confirming that event procedures are current. Utilities will also need to evaluate any new technologies and systems added since the last demand response season, properly integrating them, and checking that data stores and reporting engines are operational. It is also important to verify that all demand response event messaging is clear and up to date.  
  • Prepped demand response (DR) teams:   Effective communication and coordination among grid operations, call centers, program teams and other groups is critical for managing summer peak loads. Their efforts are largely interdependent, with activities in one area often directly or indirectly impacting others. For example, a call for a demand response event is likely to increase call center traffic as customers may have questions. Grid operations need to coordinate with the DR program team to ensure that events are called that best mitigate grid stresses and reduce the need for additional generation to come online.   


We strongly recommend utilities conduct an end-to-end test event   to ensure that all communication links, messaging, technology and systems, and reporting are functioning. An end-to-end test isn’t just about systems—it’s about verifying that people, processes and tools are ready, giving utilities a chance to provide needed fixes and updates before the first real event is called.  

We provide and support this service for utilities across our portfolios and can speak to the benefits of it.   

How utilities can help customers be ready

While internal preparations are crucial, the success of DR programs ultimately relies on customer engagement and readiness. Without it, even the best-prepared utility will struggle to manage energy demand effectively. Utilities should prioritize actively engaging with their customers to make sure they understand and are ready for DR events. 

Whether targeting new participants or retaining existing ones, educating customers on the importance of participating in DR events greatly enhances the program's effectiveness. 

  • Recruiting: Now is the best time for utilities to ramp up customer awareness campaigns to recruit new participants. Utilities can align messages across multiple channels—email, direct mail, social media, app-based notifications and call centers—to remind customers of program benefits during a time when summer heat and peak loads are top of mind. Utilities may also use email, SMS or mobile app notifications to remind customers of their involvement and outline the incentives they could be earning.  
  • Retaining: Regular communication with customers already enrolled in a DR program is essential. These campaigns not only remind customers of their enrollment, especially if it’s been a while since the last DR event, but also educate them on the latest benefits and updates. Utilities may send out SMS or mobile app notices before any forecasted events so participants know what to expect. This approach keeps customers engaged and strengthens the relationship between utility and customer base.

Providing relevant information is key for program growth and sustained participation. Campaign messaging can share the benefits of DR programs, emphasizing how joining in helps the community. Benefits could include keeping energy costs down by delaying the need for expensive upgrades to utility systems, and preventing blackouts by lowering energy consumption during peak periods. Customers should be reminded of their contributions to sustainability initiatives, which help reduce the need for carbon-emitting peak generation. 

Such awareness campaigns also serve as recruitment tools, by showcasing success stories and offering attractive incentives that engage new customers and encourage existing ones to continue their participation.

Utilities and customers both play key roles in DR events

By taking these steps, utilities can manage the challenges posed by load growth due to electrification, renewables and extreme weather events, and empower their customers to contribute to a more stable and sustainable energy grid. As we brace for an upcoming summer of potentially record-breaking energy demand, the collaboration between utilities and their customers is more critical than ever.  

Go back