Pecan Street project goes live with first phase of smart grid deployment


Brewster McCracken,
Executive Director,
Pecan Street
Project Inc
Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — February 2, 2011 – The first phase of the Pecan Street smart grid demonstration project has gone live in Austin’s Mueller community following completion of the systems installation, Pecan Street Project Inc. has announced.

Deployed by Austin-based Incenergy LLC, the home smart grid systems capture minute-to-minute energy usage for the whole home and six major appliances or systems. To date the systems have been deployed in 100 homes at Mueller, all of which are green built and 11 of which have rooftop solar PV systems, at an installed cost per home of $341 ($241 for equipment plus $100 for installation).

This spring, the Incenergy systems will be deployed in a second group of 100 homes outside Mueller that are at least 10 years old. All participants in both groups are volunteers.
During the 12-month first phase, project researchers will study how homeowners use electricity, gas and specific appliances during the course of the day. Then together with selected companies, this information will be used to structure next generation home smart grid systems, which will be deployed in the second phase, beginning March 2012. These systems will provide customers with the ability to manage – even over mobile phones – individual appliances and systems as well as electric vehicle charging and rooftop PV systems.

“The customer will have final say about whether the smart grid is a smart idea,” said Pecan Street Project Inc. executive director Brewster McCracken. “The truth is that we – those working on and advocating for the smart grid – need to learn a lot more from customers than they need to learn from us. Before anyone starts prescribing solutions, we must develop a much better understanding of what customers value and how they’re using energy now.”

The installation and testing of the next generation technologies will take place in a larger group of up to 1,000 residential and 75 commercial customers. Pecan Street Project will issue a Request for Information on February 15, 2011 for companies to deploy home energy management systems and to supply electric vehicles, in-home charging and rooftop PV systems.

In the current first phase, data captured from participating homes is wirelessly reported to and securely maintained at the University of Texas’s Texas Advanced Computing Center. Project team members from Pecan Street Project, The University of Texas, Incenergy, Austin Energy, Texas Gas Service and Environmental Defense Fund have been conducting field trials of the systems since September 2010. Two residents of the Mueller community serve on the project’s executive committee and have participated in the field trial planning and assessment.

The Incenergy system integrates the company’s energy measurement software with voltage measurement and wireless networking hardware. The system monitors energy usage within a resident’s breaker box, sends the information to a gateway system within the residence and transmits the data via the customer’s internet connection to the project’s data center.