Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative forms to foster adoption of the smart grid

Washington, DC –To help build consumer acceptance and use of the smart grid, a group of smart grid leaders today announced the formation of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).   The founding members of the SGCC include consumer electronics and technology companies, retailers, consumer advocacy groups, and utilities dedicated to maximizing the value of the grid for consumers.  Launched at DistribuTECH, which is the nation’s largest gathering of energy utilities and technologists, the SGCC will work to understand consumer needs and preferences, reach out to build awareness and educate consumers about the benefits of the smart grid, and share best practices for consumer engagement and empowerment.

The SGCC has three priorities:

1. In-depth research on consumer awareness, acceptance, and use of the smart grid with emphasis on their needs, preferences and priorities 2. Outreach and education to allow consumers to better understand the smart grid, its issues and its potential 3. Development of  best practices to involve and empower consumers  in the roll out of smart grid technologies

The federal stimulus program for the smart grid will reach more than $4 billion and by 2015, nearly half of all North American consumers will have next generation smart meters.   The SGCC wants to ensure these investments engage consumers and deliver the energy efficiency and the savings promised.  Consumer adoption of the new technology and services being deployed is the key to the success of the smart grid.

“For many reasons — energy independence, energy efficiency, integrating renewables, accommodating electric vehicles, and global competitiveness — we must modernize our electric system. But we can’t do that without the support and involvement of the ultimate customer,”  said Jesse Berst, acting Executive Director of the SGCC.  “We formed the SGCC to bring important stakeholders together to do the necessary research, education and collaboration to make sure we include the consumer in the conversation.”

The cross-industry initiative started after Control4, a leader in affordable IP-based home control systems and newcomer to the smart grid space, recognized a common concern emerging from partners, customers, and smart grid conferences; that the industry wasn’t equipped to understand and support consumer reactions to the technology upgrade.  In just a few months’ time, the concept to bring industry leaders together to take on smart grid consumer education became a reality in the formation of the non-profit organization, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative.  The broad representation of the group and support from established smart grid and consumer advocacy organizations reinforces the importance of the SGCC’s mission.

“There’s been intense work and focus on the technology, energy efficiency and economic advancements the smart grid enables, but if we as an industry don’t turn our attention to the consumer, to drive participation and acceptance, the real promise of the smart grid, energy independence, can never be realized, ” said Richard Walker, President, Control4 Energy Systems.

“The smart grid is of critical importance to the future of the United States.  The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative will help its member companies to further the transformation of our power grid by focusing specifically on the energy consumer,” said Guido Bartels, General Manager of Energy and Utilities at IBM.  “Along with our utility clients we have long been looking at ways to empower consumers to make informed decisions, so taking on a founding role with this collaborative is a logical next step for IBM.”

“Around the world, countries, including the United States, are realizing the clear need to modernize our electrical infrastructure to support the energy demands of our 21st Century society,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president, GE Energy Services. “A smarter electricity grid will enable us to integrate and optimize more renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as plug-in electric vehicles. It will also increase power reliability and operational efficiencies to deliver greater productivity both for the utility and the consumer.  It will empower consumers to manage their energy usage and save money without compromising their lifestyle. To make this smarter grid a reality, informing and engaging consumers is critical. The SGCC is an opportunity for key stakeholders to work together to better understand consumer needs and articulate the value and benefits of a smart grid for consumers.”

“It is crucial that all stakeholders can work cooperatively to move our industrial-age electric grid into the information age,” said Katherine Hamilton, President GridWise Alliance.  “We have reached a point of deployment where consumers are as important an ingredient as the technology that backs the system and the dollars that fund the modernization of this nation’s new energy economy.  The GridWise Alliance is looking forward to participating in the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative to help consumers reap the benefits of the smart grid.”  The GridWise Alliance is a coalition of 125 organizations advocating for the deployment of a smarter grid for the public good.

“There is a tremendous amount of change going on in the electric world,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, Ohio’s Consumers’ Counsel. “The availability of carefully designed programs that can benefit residential consumers is key to providing them additional choices and giving them more control over their energy consumption.  But education will be a key component to making the smart grid a useful consumer tool. We are excited to work with the SGCC, to share our knowledge and draw from the expertise the collaborative will offer.” The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million Ohio households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts.

Members from Industry to Consumer Advocacy The SGCC launched today with founding  member companies that span key stakeholder groups, including utilities, technology  and consumer electronics companies, retailers, and consumer advocates.

•     Magnolia/Best Buy

•     Control4

•     Ember

•     General Electric (GE)

•     GridWise Alliance (GWA)

•     IBM

•     NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

•     Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC)

•     Silver Spring Networks (SSN)

Additionally the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (www.drsgcoalition.org) and the Future of Privacy Forum (http://www.futureofprivacy.org/) have  joined as affiliate members, contributing resources to the SGCC.

For more information about the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative,  visit  www.smartgridcc.org.

Smart Grid tops the CEA’s 2010 trends list

Annually the Consumer Electronics Association makes a list of the top technology trends to watch. The list, which has proven both accurate and insightful in year’s past, aims to guide CE manufacturers and the electronic system contractors that install their products, towards education, interest and overall awareness of technologies that may be impacting their business in the coming year.  

Not surprisingly, the Smart Grid topped the CEA’s list which also included  the evolution of content, growing the connected home ecosystem, the future of TV, and connected cars.

Though the rest of the list was interesting enough, but it was the Smart Grid data that interested me the most. The CEA research finds that 70 percent of Americans are concerned about the cost of their monthly electricity bill, which is predicted to rise with growing demand.

The report states that “demand for electricity is projected to increase nearly 26 percent from 2007 to 2030, or by an average of one percent per year,” and a need for energy efficiency will rise dramatically. “A growing population and rising disposable incomes increase demand for products, services and floor space – all of which increase electricity consumption.”

The most interesting part of the Smart Grid is not necessarily the Grid itself but the enabling technologies that will lead adoption by making the Smart Grid smarter, more efficient and  more accessible.

Smart grid technologies to watch are:

  • Energy monitors that show usage information from a home-based device or web application
  • Technology that allows consumers to set their thermostats, automate home lighting and even select what type of power they wish to purchase (i.e., solar, wind, etc.) and pay accordingly
  • Grid-tied appliances that can be run according to variable, time-of-day pricing
  • Chargers that recharge phones, digital cameras and MP3 players during non-peak times
  • Battery-like devices that store larger amounts of electricity for later household use
  • Smart-charging plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles 

The CEA’s report also highlights several green innovations, including:

  • Buckywires used for photovoltaic systems
  • Geobacter microbe that consumes oil-based pollutants and can produce electricity
  • Printable batteries
  • Organic Free Radical Battery Power
  • Self-Charging cell phones
  • Kinetic phones – power through shaking
  • Photosynthesis as a power source
  • Slider notebook
  • Solar-powered laptop

The report also recognizes that consumer awareness is a key to smart grid acceptance which means CE manufacturers and integrators need to make educating their customers a top priority in 2010.

posted by Kimberly Lancaster | Twitter

CNET’s Best of CES 2010 Green Award

Control4 was one of three nominees in the Green category for this year’s CNET Best of CES 2010 Awards.  At CES, Control4 showed its Energy Management System (EMS) 100, which received the nomination.

The EMS 100 is comprised of the EC-100,  a touch-screen home controller that allows you to monitor your home’s energy and the WT-100, a wireless Zigbee-enabled thermostat. This allows people to track their energy usage and find ways to reduce it; you can also set up the device to automatically do it for you. The system not only allows you to monitor your home’s energy but you have the ability to control lights, locks, and more. Other applications can be added to the system through Control4’s newly launched app store called 4Store.

To get the whole story you can click here: Read More

The winner in the Green category this year was Tenrehte Technologies for their Picowatt Wi-Fi smart plugs.

According to the article on CNET, Tenrehte Technologies has a grassroots vision for the smart grid. Instead of relying on a utility-installed smart meter to help consumers ratchet down their electricity bills, the Rochester, N.Y.-based start-up is building Wi-Fi-enabled smart plugs. A few strategically placed smart plugs, called a Picowatt, will provide many of the benefits promised to consumers by the smart grid, including a real-time read-out of electricity usage and the ability to control appliances from a central point.

The Freeloader Pro, which was the other Green nomination, is a handheld charger made up of two small solar panels and integrated lithium ion battery.

Like the dozens of solar chargers on the market, the Freeloader Pro can charge up cell phones, GPS devices, and other small gadgets. What makes it versatile is the accompanying CamCaddy, an adjustable device for charging different sized block batteries for digital cameras, camcorders, or digital SLRs.

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Apple’s Play Into Energy Management

It was only a matter of time before Apple made a play for the home energy management space.  Greentech Media reports that Apple has filed two patents for home energy management dashboard systems based on powerline networking.  Essentially, powerline networking turns every outlet in a home into an internet port and allows power to that outlet to be controlled and managed.  Not a new concept at all – but then, Apple has never been on the edge of technical innovation, per se.  They are basically taking the concept that HomePlug brought to market and tossing it into the design and UI genius that is Apple’s product team.

The idea behind the powerline networking for energy management is that all plugged in devices could be controlled through a central interface and consumption data could be aggregated to inform the consumer on usage and cost savings.  There are no reports yet of an Apple interface like Microsoft’s Hohm or Google’s PowerMeter – but we can only imagine that’s what’s coming.  Apple has a PhD in user interface, it is what makes consumers want an iPod over a Zune, an iPhone over an HTC or Motorola.  It is the sleek factor, the measurement of cool.

The other question begging to be asked is whether or not Apple’s entrance into the home energy display space will mean momentum and increased speed of adoption – or, as many (including VentureBeat’s Tom Slater) are predicting, the beginning of the end of this first piece of the Smart Grid bubble.

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Smart Grid Coalition Presents Views to House Democratic Caucus on Job Creation and Support for Economic Recovery

Earlier today, at the invitation of the House Democratic Caucus, representatives of the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG) presented their views on smart grid development, job creation, and economic recovery to over 200 Members of the House at the body’s annual Issues Retreat.  

“The Smart Grid is about jobs,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “And the clean energy jobs of the future are created by smart grid companies every day. Investing in the smart grid means investing in every state in ways that provide local jobs and local benefits as well as supporting our economic recovery and our environmental goals.”

“We look to the smart grid for an innovative way to create jobs in the short term while laying a foundation for long-term economic growth,” said Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus John Larson (D-CT).  “It was important to hear from the Demand Response and Smart Grid coalition and its cutting edge companies to get their perspective. It is clear that a part of maintaining US competitiveness includes supporting the smart grid.”

Senior Executives from DRSG member companies Whirlpool, Honeywell, Landis + Gyr, EnerNOC and Ice Energy represented DRSG, with each company giving an overview of their respective role in smart grid development and how they are adding jobs and contributing to economic recovery as a result of the new business opportunities being created by smart grid policy developments. The companies specifically addressed their involvement in projects to be funded by provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

“This was a great opportunity to be helpful to America’s lawmakers,” said Dan Delurey, DRSG President. “The emerging smart grid brings with it skilled jobs while advancing the security and reliability of our electric grid and reducing emissions and customer prices.”  

The companies also took the opportunity to respond to the many questions from House members as to what steps could be taken now on Smart Grid that would also contribute to job creation and economic recovery.  DRSG members discussed several steps that it believed should be taken and they will follow-up with members on issues including:

  1. Provide additional stimulus funds to DOE to allow additional smart grid grant applications to be funded from among existing applicants.  
  2. Enact the existing provisions of H.R. 2454 (the American Clean Energy and Security Act, sponsored by Representatives Waxman and Markey) that would create smart grid peak reduction goals and also integrate smart grid into the Energy Star Program.
  3. Establish a temporary investment tax credit that would spur near-term smart grid business activity in the same way that tax policy has been used to support development in the renewable and efficiency areas.

 “The House of Representatives has shown great support for smart grid development in EPACT 2005, EISA 2007, ARRA 2009 and now in Waxman-Markey.  Those of us in the industry know that with a little bit more support right now, many more smart grid projects and developments can be unleashed,” said Delurey.

 More information is available at www.drsgcoalition.org.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter

APOGEE Interactive and Control4 Collaborate to Connect Consumers to the Smart Grid

Control4, a leader in affordable IP-based home control systems, and APOGEE Interactive announced a strategic relationship today to incorporate Apogee’s energy analysis software into the Control4® home area network solution, the Energy Management System 100.  By analyzing and presenting the data gathered by the Energy Management System 100 in an easy-to-understand interface and linking that with control over home devices, consumers can see the impact of changing their usage and realize substantial energy savings in the home.

While billions of dollars are poured into upgrading the energy infrastructure and creating the smart grid, consumers are a crucial piece of the solution. The Control4® Energy Management System with Apogee enables consumers to participate and understand their role in managing their energy use.
“So many people talk about the smart grid and smart metering in terms of providing data to consumers,” said Joel Gilbert, chief software architect and cofounder of APOGEE Interactive.  “But you need more than just energy usage data. You have to enrich the data with analysis and a compelling interface to keep consumers engaged for the long run.  That’s what this partnership delivers.”
This strategic relationship marks the first time Apogee’s software will be available on an in-home device, and will enable the Control4 Energy Management System 100 to turn multiple streams of energy-related data into actionable information consumers can use to monitor and make changes to their home energy usage.  For example, the Energy Management System will be able to forecast how much energy a consumer will use based on past usage patterns, allowing the consumer to make changes to lower their utility bill before it arrives.
“Apogee is a well respected partner to more than 400 utilities and AMI companies looking to deliver data to their consumers via the Internet,” said Will West, chief executive officer of Control4.  “We’re excited to be the first to leverage this proven capability in an in-home display.  It’s a win for utilities, and will be a win for consumers too.”
By leveraging the Control4 Energy Management System 100, utilities can provide consumers a transparent view of their usage and billing information – right on their in-home display.   The total Control4 product experience can increase customer participation in demand response and energy efficiency programs.  This increased customer satisfaction will in turn reduce energy management and customer service costs.
posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter

Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition Adds 6 New Members

The Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG) announced that six companies have joined the trade association and will contribute to its efforts aimed at developing markets for smart grid technologies and smart grid practices like demand response. The new DRSG members are LG Electronics USA, Electrolux, Control4, HomeGrid Forum, Midas Medici Group Holdings, Inc and CABA.

“The growth in DRSG membership reflects the growing market for smart grid technologies and the increasing interest in how to provide the technologies, as well as demand response and other smart-grid practices, to utilities and consumers,” said Dan Delurey, Executive Director of the trade association. “Their expertise and experience is a welcome addition to the DRSG, and we look forward to having them as part of our organization.”

LG Electronics USA, Inc., based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the North American subsidiary of LG Electronics, Inc., a $45 billion global force and technology leader in home appliances, consumer electronics and mobile communications. In the United States, LG Electronics sells a range of stylish and innovative home appliances, home entertainment products, mobile phones, air conditioners and business solutions, all under LG’s “Life’s Good” marketing theme. For more information, visit www.LGusa.com.

Electrolux is a global leader in household appliances and appliances for professional use, selling more than 40 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. The company focuses on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and cookers sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, AEG-Electrolux, Eureka and Frigidaire. In 2008, Electrolux had sales of SEK 105 billion and 55,000 employees. For more information, visit http://www.electroluxusa.com/welcome/.

Control4, the operating system for the connected home, brings home automation and control to the broad market. Control4 technology is at the heart of an expanding ecosystem of leading consumer electronics products designed to work together with ease. Control4 Energy Systems, an operating division of Control4, leverages the company’s expertise in developing compelling consumer product experiences to deliver innovative home area network (HAN) solutions for utilities, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) vendors and service providers that engage homeowners to manage their energy use. From essential energy management to effortless entertainment and whole-home control, Control4 is the platform for managing all the pieces of today’s connected life. For more information, visit http://www.control4.com/energy.

Midas Medici Group Holdings’ subsidiary, UtiliPoint International, has more than 500 clients worldwide and is a leading provider of research and advisory services for the energy sector. The company consists of industry experts from around the world with diverse backgrounds in utility generation, transmission and distribution, retail markets, mergers and acquisitions, new technologies, venture capital, information technology, outsourcing, renewable energy, regulatory affairs and international issues. UtiliPoint International, Inc. is headquartered in Albuquerque, NM. For more information, visit http://www.utilipoint.com/.

HomeGrid Forum is a global, non-profit trade group promoting the International Telecommunication Union’s G.hn standardization efforts for next-generation home networking. HomeGrid Forum promotes adoption of G.hn through technical and marketing efforts, addresses certification and interoperability of G.hn-compliant products, and cooperates with complementary industry alliances. For more information, visit www.HomeGridForum.org.

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is a leading industry association that promotes advanced technologies in homes and buildings in North America. The organization is supported by an international membership of nearly 400 companies involved in the design, manufacture, installation and retailing of products relating to home automation and building automation. Public organizations, including utilities and government, are also members. CABA’s mandate includes providing its members with networking and market research opportunities. For more information, visit www.caba.org.

“In joining DRSG, these companies will also have the opportunity to be a part of the Smart Green Grid Initiative (SGGI) — a new effort recently initiated to demonstrate the significant role that the smart grid will have in the achievement of climate change goals,” Delurey said. “SGGI is an official UN-approved participant in the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen in December 2009, and a number of DRSG members will be attending and helping to carry our message to the climate change community.” More information about SGGI is available here www.smartgreengrid.org.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster