APS virtual power plant benefits customers, smart grid & environment

Customers earn special discounts and bill credits for energy conservation efforts

On Arizona’s hottest summer days when energy use is at its highest as air conditioners crank to the max, a network of customers’ smart thermostats, more than 52,000 strong, quietly works as Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS) virtual power plant.

These customers are part of the nationally recognized APS Cool Rewards program, which began in 2018 and provides incentives in the form of bill credits and exclusive discounts to conserve electricity. The program is now recognized as one of the five largest Bring Your Own Thermostat (BYOT) programs in the country and is considered one of the largest utility-managed thermostat virtual power plants.

During just the summer months of 2021, Cool Rewards participants conserved energy by raising their thermostats just a few degrees to help shed nearly 80 megawatts of electricity from the APS system, an equivalent amount to what a small power plant might produce. That energy avoidance saves customers money, benefits the environment and builds a smarter electrical grid.

“We call that a triple win. We design programs that benefit our customers, providing them energy-saving options while helping to advance an increasingly cleaner and more reliable electric system,” said Kerri Carnes, APS Manager of Customer Technology. “Our robust virtual network of connected devices ranges from smart thermostats, solar inverters, and battery storage to water heaters. We will continue to enhance our customers’ experience and create forward-looking programs that embrace technology as a resource on our path to serving customers with 100% clean energy.”

APS is working with EnergyHub to manage its diverse portfolio of grid-edge devices. EnergyHub’s software platform and services provide APS the ability to manage, grow and operationalize their network of devices for the benefit of the APS grid and market value streams. The partnership has also allowed APS to offer its customers a seamless enrollment experience at the point of purchase by integrating with APS Marketplace.

“APS is a pioneer in leveraging the flexibility of connected devices to help support its clean energy and reliability goals,” said Tyler Rogers, EnergyHub Senior Director of Utility Sales. “EnergyHub is honored to be a long partner with APS, working together to deliver innovative, scalable and customer-centric solutions.”

To offer customers savings on the latest smart home technology, APS is working directly with top thermostat providers. Through special partnership with Google, APS customers have access to promotional pricing for Google Nest Smart Thermostat models, at no cost except shipping and taxes.

"Independent studies show that Nest thermostats save people an average of 10% to 15% on heating and cooling annually,” said Aaron Berndt, Google Head of Industry Partnerships. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for consumers to utilize Google Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards solution within innovative programs such as Cool Rewards and the APS Marketplace and we are thrilled to collaborate with APS and EnergyHub to outfit customers’ homes with energy efficient products like Nest thermostats."

APS Cool Rewards has surpassed the halfway mark to its goal of 100,000 enrolled smart thermostats. The program was recognized earlier this year with the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for excellence in customer energy efficiency programs. To learn more or enroll, visit aps.com/CoolRewards.

Woman standing in the hallway looking at her phone of her home next to a smart thermostat
APS serves more than 1.3 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is a leader in delivering affordable, clean and reliable energy in the Southwest. The company is committed to serving customers with 100% clean power by 2050. As owner and operator of Palo Verde Generating Station, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free electricity, and with one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, APS’s current energy mix is 50% clean. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).

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