Week #5 – Uncovering the Gross Up

The gross-up is industry-speak for the transmission loss factor and operating reserve margin that is applied to electricity demand in wholesale power markets. These concepts impact the value of demand response resources in these same markets.

Kelly Yazdani
Kelly Yazdani
March 25, 2020
3
min read
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Week #5 – Uncovering the Gross Up

At Voltus, we talk to hundreds of energy decision makers every day from dozens of industries in every major energy market. Sometimes these organizations are learning about the benefits of demand response for the first time. At other times, we’re connecting with businesses long-steeped in demand response program participation. Our message, regardless of experience, is that it is possible for customers to double their demand response dollars, and one of the easiest ways to contribute to this goal is giving demand response customers their fair share of the “gross-up.”

What the heck is the gross-up!?!

So glad you asked.

The gross-up is industry-speak for the transmission loss factor and operating reserve margin that is applied to electricity demand in wholesale power markets. These concepts impact the value of demand response resources in these same markets.

The bottom line: if you’re not being paid your portion of the gross-up you could be losing 5% to 40% of your demand response dollars depending on year and market.

Let’s look at an example to understand the concept clearly.

You have 1,000 kW of demand response capability at your facility. You contract with a demand response provider to get 65% of the revenue earned from enrolling your load curtailment in the ISO-NE market. At $7.03/kW-month you would expect the gross revenue from the 1,000 kW to be worth $84,360 for power year 2019, which at 65% nets your business $54,834. Pretty good, huh? Yet, your demand response capability is actually more valuable than 1,000 kWs and here’s why.

When power is generated by a natural gas power plant, 7% of that power is lost on average over transmission lines (a 100 MW generator only delivers about 93 MWs of usable electricity to the point of consumption). Additionally, that natural gas power plant isn’t 100% reliable throughout the year, which requires the grid operator to buy, on behalf of the market, what’s called “operating reserve.” Operating reserve averages about 15% of generation capacity (that 100 MW generator requires the grid operator to purchase 115 total MWs of generation). These transmission line losses and operating reserves add up, amounting to an additional 22% in this example.

Demand response capacity behaves differently though since it’s created at the point of consumption. This capacity doesn’t experience transmission line losses and doesn’t require operating reserves. As a result, the grid operator in our example would “gross up” the value of your 1,000 kW demand response capacity by that same 22%. The demand response provider is actually credited with 1,220 kW (1,000 kW plus the 220 kW gross up). In many cases, demand response providers only pay the customer 65% of the “nameplate capacity” (the original 1,000 kW). The additional $18,559 of value that comes from the 220 kW gross-up goes entirely to the demand response provider.

You can do the math to determine the true revenue share, but in this example it amounts to 53% to the customer, not the expected 65%.

Gross-up values can vary significantly by wholesale market, the particular power year, and the customer’s transmission level service. Regardless of the exact value, the gross up is money that shouldn’t be left on the table. If you’ve been doing demand response for a long time and you’re looking to maximize cash from your operational flexibility, ask your demand response provider for your share of the gross up.

At Voltus, we value transparency above all else. Interested in working with us or learning more about the many ways you can double your demand response dollars? Email us at info@voltus.co or chat with us below.

Kelly Yazdani
Kelly Yazdani

Vice President Of Marketing

I am excited to be a part of a high-speed gritty community of Voltans determined to affect the world in a positive way! Outside of work, you’ll find me hanging with my husband and three kids – driving carpool in my minivan, exploring children’s literature, cooking a semi-healthy meal, hiking, traveling, or volunteering. I love building new friendships and creating a positive community wherever I go.