By Charles Porter
A mere quantum of energy has significant potential as it travels to someone’s house. As it moves through the meter and is counted toward next month’s bill, its potential is still unrealised even though its cost is very real. How will it be used once it enters the home? Will it power an air conditioner, a television, or simply keep a phone charger ready? Ultimately, does the home owner really need that quantum of energy at that moment or would they save that power if they could?
Consumers and businesses want the ability to make smart choices about energy use. They need information about what the energy currently costs, where it is being consumed, and how they can reduce their consumption. Current infrastructures and technology cannot provide this information as each step of the process is managed and owned by separate companies and managed by incompatible technologies. Energy conscious consumers and businesses need to be able to tap into a new “Energy Information Network” – a network that bridges the gaps between appliances, smart meters, and energy companies.
E:SOSM, a new business division of ista, approaches this problem through its E:INSM (Energy Information Network) platform by leveraging key relationships with utilities, energy retailers, and large organisational consumers to tie data to real-world actionable intelligence. In-home devices are able to forward information about individual usage – thermostat settings, personal routines and preferences, and even smart appliances – into the E:IN platform. This information is linked to the meter data to accurately determine the consumption cost at any point of the day, month, or year. From here, the data is fed into complex business rules, helping consumers optimise their use as well as helping energy providers reduce peak demand. This results in savings to both energy consumers and producers.
The E:IN platform integrates into homes and businesses by providing a unified and Internet-based framework for on-site devices to communicate. These devices can be environmental monitors, such as thermometers, or consumption monitors that report on the energy use of specific appliances. Automated switches and relays can integrate to form the framework of a Home Automation Network (HAN) – providing users with the ability to not only manage their energy cost but also bring the convenience of home automation to their house. E:INbased services can signal expensive appliances to concentrate their operation at the most cost effective times. These devices then send their information to the gateway device, which relays data via the Internet to centralised E:IN servers.
The next E:IN-based node begins at the meter of the home or business. This node provides critical consumption data and when using an Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) can provide detailed near real-time data. Through its relationship with retailers and utilities, E:SO is able to bring this real-time data into the E:IN platform through the same Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) channels that it currently uses to provide billing and Customer Information Services (CIS) to its clients. The E:IN platform is then able to create actionable intelligence by integrating the on-site device data with the real-time meter and rate data to create a personalised usage profile for the end consumer.
The value of the E:IN platform is amplified by integrating the data from distributors and consumers with the energy producers. By tying total peak capacity information and costs into a network with devices that can control demand, E:IN enabled services allow participants to reduce demand on the consumption side in real time to help prevent the expensive generation of peak time energy. E:SO’s Internet-based approach permits energy producers to launch an effective demand-response system without fully deploying an AMI network throughout their market. More information in the system can improve the accuracy, but the core principles of the E:IN platform can operate with minimal infrastructure investment on the part of producers and distributors, and still permit them to realise significant savings.
E:SO’s recent launch brings together core competencies in EDI, CIS, energy intelligence, and energy management, enabling the launch of the E:IN platform for the energy market. Its global perspective allows innovations in one part of the world to be quickly brought and implemented to clients remaining in the world. By viewing each part of the energy supply chain as part of a unified Energy Information Network, E:SO’s E:IN platform enables new services to be delivered to clients that were previously difficult and costly to achieve. This approach provides energyconscious companies with a simple way to maximise both savings and profitability.