Guest Interview with Susan Covino of PJM

    How long have you worked at PJM?

    I joined PJM as the first Manager, Demand Side Response in October of 2002.  Prior to joining
    PJM I was a Director of Regulatory Affairs for The New Power Company, a competitive retail
    supplier of natural gas and electricity to residential and small commercial customers.

    How long have you been involved in demand side activities?

    I have been involved in demand side activities for over 10 years, including two years at The New 
    Power Company as well as the past 8+ years at PJM.


What is your role at PJM?

My role at PJM is to understand and enhance the wholesale market opportunities for demand response and energy efficiency and to analyze the wholesale market implications of smart grid deployment.  My work is focused on the integration of wholesale electricity prices and retail electric rates/prices.


What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?

The role of demand response and how to "operationalize" DR participation in the wholesale markets was not widely understood in 2002.  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy encouraged the development of wholesale market opportunities for demand response beginning in the early 2000's.  Calculating an estimate of what the customer would have used without demand response ("customer baseline" or "CBL") became a big challenge and is still something that needs to be actively managed because of its controversial nature among electric industry stakeholders.  Another challenge is dealing with the natural tension between competing generation and demand response resources.  


What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?

Rising fuel costs drove some of the electricity price increases through mid-2008.  Growing demand during the same period led to increases in capacity prices, particularly in eastern PJM.  These higher electricity prices produced greater interest among retail customers in managing their electricity costs by deploying demand response and energy efficiency resources.  The "Great Recession" subsequently reduced demand for electricity that has been reflected in significantly lower Energy Market prices.  Given lower Energy Market prices one would expect to see fewer hours of load reduction in response to price in an efficient market.  The end-use sites registered to provide demand response, however, will be ready to respond as economic recovery leads to greater electricity demand and higher Energy Market prices.  Also, the effects of smart grid development and deployment funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) have encouraged more technology developers to enter the market and more demand-side resources to become available.


What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?

We must figure out how to integrate as efficiently and intelligently as possible the changes that are transforming the electricity industry in the USA and around the world.  Integrating intermittent renewable generation, showing customers how the marginal cost of providing electricity varies over time and integrating electric vehicles will require us to think in new ways and challenge us to solve technical problems and to address anticipated and unanticipated societal concerns.  DR will be important - and likely essential - to success in all of these areas.  


What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?

This is a perfect time to become a demand response/smart grid professional.  The transformation to a smart grid and the wider use of demand response is just beginning and you will be able to embark on a rewarding career while helping to create a greener, more efficient electric industry.

© 2016 Solar Electric Power Association    ::     1220 19th Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C., 20036    ::   contact us

Periodic updates on news & events related to demand response and smart grid.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software