Why Your Dishwasher Is Talking to Your Energy Company

The giant natural gas leak that hit California’s Aliso Canyon reserve in late 2015 led to a massive quantity of methane being released into the environment, contributing to man-made climate change and raising health concerns for nearby residents.

But the leak of more than 100,000 tons of methane also served as a critical test for a demand response, a practice in which electric utility companies push customers to reduce consumption in times of high demand or limited supply. Faced with the shutdown of one of the largest natural gas storage facilities in the U.S., utilities needed to find a way to ensure a steady electricity supply to more than 10 million people in the Los Angeles region without being able to simply build more power plants.

Demand response offered a solution. Southern California Edison, the local utility company, put millions of dollars into programs that would reduce demand during summer days when there might have been blackouts. Thanks to the effort, they were able to give rebates to customers who cut their energy use during time peak demand and pay customers to install a thermostat that communicates with the company, among other initiatives.
Read more (Time)