Real-time utility home area network deployed


Dallas, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 24, 2008 – Texas-based Oncor Electric Delivery Company has deployed the nation’s first high-speed utility home area network (HAN) using programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs) and load control switches communicating over a smart grid. The system, supplied by CURRENT Group, LLC, communicates demand response requests and other critical information from the utility to the customer and verifies the results of the requests, all in real-time.

This solution will be used initially by retail electric providers Direct Energy, Reliant Energy and TXU Energy as part of a joint collaborative effort by the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET) to bring innovative technologies to Texas.

"The CURRENT Smart Grid™ solution allows consumers to participate in programs designed to reduce the cost or environmental impact of electric usage and for the utility to verify in real-time that usage has actually declined, thus allowing the use of less generation with the resulting reduction in emissions," said Tom Casey, Chief Executive Officer of CURRENT. "These capabilities, along with our announcement on underground cable fault detection, show how the CURRENT Smart Grid solution is solving real problems of utilities that are not solved by AMI systems."

Real-time load control has the greatest value of any type of demand response, especially in unexpectedly tight market conditions, according to a 2007 Brattle Group report. Using data from a heat wave in the Mid-Atlantic market, PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization in that region, estimated that use of real-time curtailment of power would save more than $650 million in energy cost over just one week.

CURRENT’s system uses a high-speed broadband over power line (BPL) network to communicate from the utility control center into the home to PCTs and load control switches from CURRENT’s partner, Corporate Systems Engineering, as well as to any other Internet based devices such as computers or in-home displays.

With a customer’s permission, the temperature at the thermostat can be adjusted automatically from the utility control center during periods of high electricity demand. In the future, appliances and other devices will be enabled to respond automatically to energy savings commands. Demand response strategies can also be targeted at the individual substation, feeder or even transformer to lower load when distribution equipment problems are detected, allowing utilities to identify equipment issues and be able to reduce load to prevent outages while dispatching crews to fix the problem.