Gas Industry’s Version of Demand Response Cures Its “Duck Curve”

Sun Jan 27 05:00:00 UTC 2019
Dr. Jeff D. Makholm

In an upcoming article in the February 2019 issue of the Wiley journal Natural Gas & Electricity, Dr. Jeff D. Makholm reviews demand response programs in electricity and gas systems, noting that these regulated energy systems have different institutional histories, industrial structures, technologies, and cost structures—all of which are significant when it comes to effective regulation.

With electricity, demand spikes on peak days, usually summer mornings and especially in the afternoon when people get home from work. The power markets reflect those periods with different price bids—reflected in the ubiquitous “duck curve,” so called because increased use of solar generation over time lowers the “belly” of the duck while doing little at the afternoon peak hours. Demand response for electricity is driven by transmitting duck-curve price signals so that consumers can take the opportunity to move loads away from the duck’s head through activities like running appliances like dishwashers or washing machines at noon or during the night.

With gas, there is no duck curve. The peak occurs after two or three extremely cold and windy winter days—when consumer boilers run all day long to keep up. Thus, the period that matters most in gas is the year. Demand response applicable for electricity does not translate readily to the gas market. To the extent that demand response has a role in maximizing gas infrastructure requirements, it is about the expected winter peaks. Dr. Makholm examines several demand response systems for gas in New England, Southern California, and New York, and proposes a modest application of marginal-cost pricing to alleviate cost consequences during the winter months.

Makholm, Jeff D. (2019, February). Gas Industry’s Version of Demand Response Cures its “Duck Curve” Natural Gas & Electricity 35/07, ©2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., a Wiley company.