APPA-Funded Study Provides Heat Pump Water Heater Guidebook and Calculator Tool for Public Power Utilities

February 17, 2022

by Vanessa Nikolic
APPA News
February 17, 2022

A new American Public Power Association-funded study has resulted in the development of a new guidebook and calculator tool which will be useful for public power utilities interested in adopting grid-interactive heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). 

American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP), a joint action agency representing 134 members, routinely explores beneficial electrification opportunities to help its member utilities with load growth while addressing peak demand on the grid. VEIC, a non-profit organization aiming to reduce the economic and environmental costs of energy use, approached AMP about forming a partnership to study the potential for grid-interactive HPWHs in AMP member communities. AMP was eager to collaborate with VEIC and move forward with the study with the help of grant funding by the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program.

AMP’s Assistant Vice President for Energy Policy and Sustainability, Erin Miller, played a key role and served as the project manager for AMP. She worked with VEIC, AMP’s cross-departmental team, and its members to develop the work products. 

During the project, Miller appreciated collaborating with her team and hearing from AMP members. 

“It was definitely a group effort, we had several members providing us guidance, and staff across departments were engaged,” Miller said. “VEIC was a great partner; we worked with Emily Lewis O’Brien and Chris Badger, and we built off of previous work conducted by Hawaii Energy and Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI).” 

Prior to the start of the project, the team had three goals according to Miller. They wanted to study the market potential of HPWHs in AMP’s members’ service territory, develop guidance and a program for public power utilities wishing to learn more about the technology, and develop a tool for utilities to discover what their customers’ economic and environmental benefits would be if customers switched to a grid-interactive HPWH from an electric-resistance, natural gas, oil, or propane-powered water heater.   

The Grid-Connected Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) Guidebook contains an introduction to HPWHs, HPWH control, service provider options for HPWH control, and HPWH program case studies. 

“The Guidebook developed in this project contains a wealth of information for utilities on grid-interactive HPWHs,” Miller said. “In particular, utilities with a high percentage of customers with electric resistance water heating have the greatest peak-saving potential from adding grid-connected HPWH, while utilities with a high percentage of customers with oil/propane water heat can add new load from grid-connected HPWH with minimal peak impacts.” 

The Guidebook also helps develop recommendations to maximize benefits for both customers and utilities by addressing market opportunities and barriers and offering best practices for program design, equipment installation, and utility integration into demand response programs.  

Miller said the Excel-based Grid Connected Heat Pump Water Heater Calculator Tool is designed to assess the customer economics for installing a HPWH under different scenarios and geographic locations. Component information on fuel costs, etc. is supplied for 10 towns in AMP’s region; other users can add their own town’s energy cost data to use the tool. 

Together, the Guidebook and Calculator can help public power utilities understand both the opportunity and options for offering a grid-connected HPWH program in their territories.  

DEED members can learn more about the project in the DEED Project Library. Additional details about the DEED program are available here

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