Whirlpool: Smart Grid Appliances by 2015

Lynne Kiesling

Last week Whirlpool announced that by 2015 all of their appliances would have embedded digital intelligence to make them responsive, transactive smart grid devices. There have been a few articles on this point, most recently this Reuters/GreenBiz one. Of course the crucial work here will be in developing open interoperability standards:

The home appliance manufacturer, famous for brands that include KitchenAid, Maytag, Amana, and its namesake, Whirlpool, among others, will form public-private partnerships to create an open, global standard for home appliances to transmit and receive signals by 2010. Once the standard is in place, the company will roll out compatible, electronically controlled appliances over the next five years.

The partnerships also will design policies that reward and incent manufacturers, utilities and consumers for offering and using the peak demand reduction abilities.

Game on, baby!

Relatedly, here’s an interesting GigaOM/Business Week article on the NIST interoperability standards work that I’ve been discussing. This article does a nice job of capturing the challenges, comparing the electricity industry standards development to other technology infrastructure industries, and highlighting the opportunities that open up if we can come up with an architecture for an open, interoperable smart grid that can become a platform for innovation. I particularly like the conclusion:

There’s the risk that the time crunch and complexity of the smart grid standards process could result in wrong choices. More likely, given the condensed timeline, is that standards bodies could set such broad guidelines that they’ll have little teeth. That’s probably a good thing, as companies, utilities and policymakers are just starting to discover what the real value of the smart grid is and will need market competition (not policy, standards, or technology) to help shape its future.

Hmmmm, where’ve I heard that before … ?

2 thoughts on “Whirlpool: Smart Grid Appliances by 2015

  1. Teeth, don’t hold your breath. NIST was mistakenly given this assignment because some goofball congressmen saw “standards are needed” in the trade journals and “national institute of STANDARDS and technologies” in their federal rolodex. NIST’s standards mission is about measurement standards – what is an “amp” … what is a “second” … Not process standards: how does an electric meter discuss time-of-use prices with a dishwasher? IEEE and IEC are the right bodies, not NIST. God loves us, as NIST brought in EPRI. EPRI can help, but no one can help THIS fast. In their time, EPRI is going to repackage their immense tome of standards (also known as Intelligrid) with a pinch of ginger and warm it over. The result will be a set of encyclopedias, not an inter-operability standard. The answer may be in the library, though. That long, hard work of digging out the truth will fall onto IEEE and IEC.

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