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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of Granular Control on Customers’ Perspective and Behavior with Automated Demand Response Systems:


Automated demand response (Auto-DR) is expected to close the loop between buildings and the grid by providing machine-to-machine communications to curtail loads without the need for human intervention. Hence, it can offer more reliable and repeatable demand response results to the grid than the manual approach and make demand response participation a hassle-free experience for customers. However, many building operators misunderstand Auto-DR and are afraid of losing control over their building operation. To ease the transition from manual to Auto-DR, we designed and implemented granular control of Auto-DR systems so that building operators could modify or opt out of individual load-shed strategies whenever they wanted. This paper reports the research findings from this effort demonstrated through a field study in large commercial buildings located in New York City. We focused on (1) understanding how providing granular control affects building operators’ perspective on Auto-DR, and (2) evaluating the usefulness of granular control by examining their interaction with the Auto-DR user interface during test events. Through trend log analysis, interviews, and surveys, we found that: (1) the opt-out capability during Auto-DR events can remove the feeling of being forced into load curtailments and increase their willingness to adopt Auto-DR; (2) being able to modify individual load-shed strategies allows flexible Auto-DR participation that meets the building’s changing operational requirements; (3) a clear display of automation strategies helps building operators easily identify how Auto-DR is functioning and can build trust in Auto-DR systems.

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