For all that Appalachian EC, New Market, Tenn., has going for it, the cooperative is saddled with a significant deficiency.

“We have one of the worst load factors in the Valley,” said Greg Williams, Appalachian EC’s longtime general manager and a former TVPPA chairman. “Our No. 1 goal is to impact our load factor.”

Enter Seven States Power Corp., which not only offered Williams a way to manage his load control, but to do it with relative simplicity – thanks to DERMS (Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems), a software product made by Seven States partner OATI.

“DERMS offers us the opportunity to centralize all those [load-control] functions and manage those effectively,” Williams said. “And, secondarily, the fact that it’s a Seven States solution makes it an ideal solution.”

It isn’t that Appalachian EC can’t manage its load issues on its own – the trick, Williams said, is to do it as effectively as possible.

“Trying to manage all those different things – water heaters, voltage control, all of it – in all those different silos can be challenging,” Williams said. “We have SCADA, AMI and different software tools, but no way of truly focusing our efforts on energy management.

“DERMS lets us pull all those together into one platform, and it opens the door for other potential projects – battery storage comes to mind,” Williams said. “And we weren’t actually looking at doing this – Seven States brought it to our attention and really opened our eyes as to the possibilities. Seven States brought a solution that we didn’t even know existed.”

Williams said that while DERMS is still in the pencil-and-paper stage at Appalachian EC, he’s already eyeing some near-term goals.

“I’d love to be able to start with voltage control by the end of 2019, then look at adding a demand-response program for our commercial and industrial customers by next spring,” he said. “Those are two things I think we could do fairly quickly.”