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At present, the power grid has tight control over its dispatchable generation capacity but a very coarse control on the demand. Energy consumers are shielded from making price-aware decisions, which degrades the efficiency of the market. This state of affairs tends to favor fossil fuel generation over renewable sources. Because of the technological difficulties of storing electric energy, the quest for mechanisms that would make the demand for electricity controllable on a day-to-day basis is gaining prominence. The goal of this paper is to provide one such mechanisms, which we call Digital Direct Load Scheduling (DDLS). DDLS is a direct load control mechanism in which we unbundle individual requests for energy and digitize them so that they can be automatically scheduled in a cellular architecture. Specifically, rather than storing energy or interrupting the job of appliances, we choose to hold requests for energy in queues and optimize the service time of individual appliances belonging to a broad class which we refer to as "deferrable loads". The function of each neighborhood scheduler is to optimize the time at which these appliances start to function. This process is intended to shape the aggregate load profile of the neighborhood so as to optimize an objective function which incorporates the spot price of energy, and also allows distributed energy resources to supply part of the generation dynamically.
Date of Publication: July 2012