In collaboration with TATA Power, Powbal is conducting experiments with residential electricity customers in Delhi and Mumbai to study the role of automation and incentives in leveraging flexibility in household power demand. If demand can be made more flexible, we can avoid bringing on polluting power backups at times when there is not enough clean energy available on the grid, which would also lead to cost savings. In addition, demand flexibility could also help electricity suppliers avoid emergency response at times when margins are tight, which could lower the likelihood of outages.

As part of the trial, we offer customers simple Wi-Fi enabled smart switches, which control the operation of an appliance such as a room air conditioner or a refrigerator. We trigger brief automated switch-off events through the smart switch and reward participants per unit of electricity consumption avoided during those events. We randomise within users the timing of the switch-off event, the level of the financial incentive offered for the event, and the amount of notice time we give users prior to each event. Users can opt out of events via the TATA Power EZ Home smartphone app. We have installed over 950 devices in the trial thus far. Our objective is to guide the design of demand response programmes in a way that maximises the benefits to the grid while minimising costs to consumers.

Check out a dashboard with a snapshot of our latest findings here.