Demand response provides an opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in the operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives. Demand response programs are being used by electric system planners and operators as resource options for balancing supply and demand.
Such programs can lower the cost of electricity in wholesale markets, and in turn, lead to lower retail rates. Methods of engaging customers in demand response efforts include offering time-based rates such as time-of-use pricing, critical peak pricing, variable peak pricing, real time pricing, and critical peak rebates. It also includes direct load control programs which provide the ability for power companies to cycle air conditioners and water heaters on and off during periods of peak demand in exchange for a financial incentive and lower electric bills.