Green Technology
Here Comes the Really Smart Grid
Control4, NV Energy partner on the first smart grid rollout of home energy management systems.
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Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) includes the ZigBee-enabled EC-100 controller and wireless thermostat.
January 31, 2011 by Steven Castle

The first real-world smart grid rollout of home energy management systems will take place this year in Nevada, according to home control company Control4.

Control4 will provide Nevada’s NV Energy with 20,000 of its EMS 100 energy management systems, which consist of a 5-inch EC-100 touchscreen display and a WT-100 wireless thermostat. The rollouts will begin in June 2011, likely in southern Nevada, and continue through 2012.

This is not a trial or pilot program, as many other utilities are running across the country to assess the viability of introducing home energy management systems with smart grid rollouts. According to Control4, a request for proposal (RFP) has been sent out for the installation work, and a decision will be made in the first quarter.

How it Works

NV Energy customers voluntarily participating in NV Energy’s programs will be able to access and use the data collected by smart meters to wisely manage energy in their homes. The EC-100 energy controller’s color touchscreen interface will provide up-to-the-minute feedback on their electricity consumption and costs. The system will analyze their electricity usage and accommodate additional energy management applications and load controllers on their home area network.

The WT-100 wireless thermostat can automatically react to price signals or utility signals to reduce peak load requirements.

The EMS 100 gives homeowners a choice regarding their participation in demand response events, in which the utility can turn off or down appliances such as air conditioners during peak load periods to avoid brownouts or the buying of more costly energy.

With the EMS 100, homeowners will be able to create their own rules for reducing demand based upon factors such as price, comfort, and economic preferences. In addition, the EMS 100 system keeps the utility and home area networks separate to enable the exchange of only authorized information, according to Control4.

“As smart meters get installed on millions of homes, we can connect to that smart meter and give people data on energy use in the house and give them information on how to make these [systems] more energy efficient in the house,” says Richard Walker, president of Control4 Energy Systems.

Over the next several years, NV Energy is working to save 150 to 400 megawatts (MW) of power through demand response programs, especially during summer months when air conditioning use is high. NV Energy hopes to save 2 kilowatts of power per home.

“If you are cost-conscious, you should be able to use a solution like ours and see how to maximize your energy use,” says Walker.

Beyond Demand Response

According to Control4, the EMS 100 can also directly control some lights, such as turning off outdoor lighting. The system contains radios to connect to the two-way smart meter, a ZigBee-based radio to communicate with smart appliances, and a Wi-Fi radio for the home network. Plug-in modules and other devices will allow control of a variety of home systems.

NV Energy will also use Control4 Advantage software to communicate with and manage any number of home area networks (HANs) on the Control4 EMS 100 platform.

NV Energy is rolling the Control4 system out as part of a $300 million investment in smart grid technologies, including $130 million in government stimulus funcding.

The utility began smart meter roll out in September 2010 in southern Nevada, and will begin installing smart meters in the northern part of the state in December 2011, with every customer having a new smart meter by December 2012. To date, 25,000 smart meters have been installed, with 1.4 million meters projected by the end of 2013.
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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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