Pecan Street calls for smart grid companies with great ideas


Brewster McCracken,
Executive Director,
Pecan Street Project
Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 1, 2011 – Are you a smart grid company with a great technology that you to want to validate and show to major customers? If so the Pecan Street Project would like to hear from you.

In the RFI that was released last week, “Open innovation” is one of the three “areas of interest” that the Project will focus on in its smart grid demonstration.

In most smart grid deployments, the issuer defines what will be eligible for deployment, states the RFI. If you can’t check one of the boxes in the application, you can’t participate at any price, no matter how great your technology.

“While we unfortunately do not have funding for everything, we recognize that there are many great technologies that deserve a shot at participating in a major smart grid demonstration. So, we are going to open up the grid to great ideas from solutions providers that want exposure, experience and a chance to show their potential to multiple utilities, customers, technology companies, our researchers and the Department of Energy.”

In particular, promising technologies that the Project would like to see included in the demonstration include:

  • LED lighting
  • Vehicles (including plug-in hybrids) powered by natural gas, hydrogen and/or fuel cells
  • Applications that help consumers significantly reduce their carbon footprints
  • Smart appliances
  • Distributed generation from sources other than solar PV, such as from geothermal, natural gas, micro-wind, and even stationary bicycles, and
  • Applications that take smart appliance functionality and/or energy usage data and use that to provide new products and services unrelated to energy.

The Pecan Street Project is an initiative to deploy an advanced smart grid project at the Mueller development in central Austin – a public-private joint venture between the City of Austin and Catellus Development Group located at the site of Austin’s former airport. The project will focus on customer products and services, and home energy management systems (HEMS) in particular.

The other two areas of interest are HEMS standards testing, with up to five HEMS providers to be selected, and core project assets such as rooftop PV, electric vehicles with charging systems, and home energy storage or fuel cell generation systems, which will be procured to support the standards testing.

“For smart grid to be truly transformative, the magic has to happen inside the house, and that’s where we’re going to focus our attention,” said Pecan Street Project executive director Brewster McCracken. “We know that utility-side improvements will play an integral role in solving major energy, economic and environmental challenges. But customer value can’t be an after-thought. Instead of imposing solutions on customers, smart grid must address these challenges by creating products and services that customers will value and voluntarily adopt.”

Participants in the Pecan Street Project, which is headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin, include the University of Texas, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, the Austin Technology Incubator, the City of Austin and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The Project was awarded $10.4 million in stimulus funding.