This month, California’s investor-owned utilities announced the winners of the fourth and final Demand Response Auction Mechanism (DRAM). Since 2015, the pilot program has brought in 717 megawatts of demand response, behind-the-meter batteries, smart electric vehicle chargers, and other forms of distributed energy resource capacity.
That’s not a huge amount, compared to the state’s overall demand response portfolio, but it could become a much bigger share in years to come. That’s because DRAM is also meant to serve the role of a test market for demand-side resources — a system where DER owners, operators and aggregators could decide what it was worth to commit to grid services or energy market opportunities, and compete against one another to provide the megawatts to fill those needs.
Still, it remains up to the California Public Utilities Commission to decide whether DRAM becomes a permanent part of the state’s new customer- and DER-focused demand response regime, or ends just like most other pilots. And according to the California Public Utilities Commission, the research on whether DRAM is on track to meet the threshold for permanence still has too many uncertainties to answer that question — at least, not without more study.