Smart Grid Device Update

Lynne Kiesling

Here’s a roundup of some developments in smart grid end user devices (in other words, I had a bunch of cool articles open about nifty innovations, so let’s round ’em up so I can clear tabs in my browser!) that I hope you will find as interesting as I do:

  • From the NYT Gadgetwise blog, how to keep a green home, remotely. This post focuses on Tendril’s TREE service and the ability of homeowners (not the utility, homeowners) to alter the settings on their devices remotely. Think about how you can log in and set your DVR to record something that you forgot, or how Slingbox allows you to watch your DVR from a remote location. Same concept. Love it. For more on Tendril, here’s a really good CNet interview with Adrian Tuck, Tendril’s CEO; this interview indicates that Adrian, and Tendril, are thinking about the potential value of transactive capabilities in appliances and energy management systems. Another energy monitoring device profiled in this article is TED, The Energy Detective — simpler, and not as obviously extensible as Tendril’s devices to transactive capabilities like programming your appliances to be price responsive.
  • A neat little article from ecohome about home energy management, the value of real-time feedback, and some of the technologies that can make it happen. Again, focused only on the behavioral changes from making the information feedback more timely and more transparent; nothing specific about transactive capabilities or price-responsive devices. Still, a decent summary.
  • Geared mostly to commercial-sized electricity consumers, Cisco’s EnergyWise is a developing product and service category for Cisco. They have been getting quite a bit of attention over the past few months for their increasing interest in the smart grid and intelligent end-use device area. See also this GreenMonk post on Cisco. Energy information products and services targeted at commercial and office customers can give good bang-for-the-buck in terms of increased energy efficiency, reduced costs, and reduced emissions, because buildings consume almost 50% of the electricity consumed in the US, and there’s quite a bit of low hanging fruit. If the energy information feedback system identifies those low hanging fruit, it pays for itself quickly, to the benefit of everyone.
  • Also from GreenMonk, Tom Raftery talks to Jonathan Gay of Greenbox about their home energy management product and, happily, dynamic pricing! However, the rollout they are doing in Oklahoma uses only time-of-use pricing and is therefore not truly dynamic in the sense of being able to change as market and system conditions change. This is why I only gave Greenbox a D+ on my transactive test last September, which I should revisit soon …
  • GE is testing, and will start selling, intelligent appliances including heat pumps, water heaters, washers, dryers, and dishwashers, from earth2tech’s Katie Fehrenbacher. [A slight aside here: Katie Fehrenbacher is my favorite green tech writer right now, by far. She totally rules. As far as I’m concerned, she hits all of the important angles of the technologies and policies she covers.]
  • Finally, inhabitat reports on a neat device from the Greener Gadgets Competition — Tweet-a-Watt! Take an off-the-shelf Kill-a-Watt, hack it with some wireless technology and a receiver for it on your computer, and voila! The device to which you’ve connected the Tweet-a-Watt can report its daily electricity consumption to its Twitter account.

The more we can remove barriers to all of this kind of creativity, the better!


2 thoughts on “Smart Grid Device Update

  1. My nightmare is that if we adopt smart grids, the Feds and the Greenies will use the technology to go around my house and turn off my HVAC, my television, and my lights, in order to spare the grid which no longer carries enough power because they have decreed my reliance on solar power (I live in a town with 72 clear days a year) and wind (class 1 wind around here).

    I will fight back with UPS and a diesel generator.

    How have things improved?

  2. The appearance of system-aware appliances give me another good hook to promote the idea of making dynamic pricing available all the way to the meter, at least for voluntary subscription. We, the (conventional, regulated) utility, don’t have to *do* anything other than make the price and the communication available. Demand-side load-shaping alternatives will present themselves under the control of the consumers, who can delegate that control to their appliances. We, the utility, won’t have to worry about whether the appliances pay for themselves, although we can actively promote them when/if they do, depending on what happens with prices in the future. The availability of such technologies will in fact create demand for the dynamic pricing that some of us (utilities) hesitate to provide.

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