‘Demand Response’ continues to get increased attention in the Australian media. It is interesting that even when discussing this activity outside of utilities, we have retained the term Demand Response. I don’t know why. Demand Response, or DR, as we call it, is an industry term and means nothing to the average energy consumer. Shouldn’t we begin referring to it as something that everyone can understand?

An industry peer recently pointed out to me that Demand Response can only succeed if consumers are flexible with their energy use. So why don’t we refer to DR as that? Flexible Energy Use.

If you are working in the DR space, you know why a Utility may want a customer to be flexible with their energy use. You may want to defer investments in infrastructure assets. You may want to improve the load factor of your system.  You may want to bid into the wholesale market against traditional generation sources. More recently you may want to manage the intermittent load because of renewables. These, and much more, are all good reasons to introduce Demand Response. If done well, we will see a reduction in the pressure on utilities to increase prices. We will also see a reduction in blackouts. I have no issues with DR – quite the opposite. I take issue with the name. We need the public’s support if DR is to be successful, yet how can we win their hearts and minds when the name is confusing?

I love the term Flexible Energy Use. It describes exactly what we are asking from our energy consumers. You can create all sorts of products to achieve different outcomes, but ultimately, we are saying to energy consumers, if you are prepared to be flexible with your energy use, you will be rewarded.

To help us be more inclusive when discussing such an important topic with people from outside the industry, what term would you use instead of Demand Response?

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