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Electric Power Research Institute

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and a team of partners have developed and validated at the ESIF means by which smart, connected consumer devices can act to enable the use of more clean energy technologies on the electric power grid. Project partners have demonstrated how products might be managed to ease or mitigate certain impacts of distributed energy resources by evaluating open standard interfaces to enable interoperability and to accelerate product availability.

Bethany Sparn is pictured with a communicating pool pump that can adjust its speed to provide grid services.

Photo by John De La Rosa

The project examined the grid-support capabilities of electric vehicle supply equipment as well as smart thermostats, pool pumps, resistive and heat-pump water heaters, solar inverters, and battery energy storage devices. The study found that these connected devices have the potential to provide a wide range of grid services, including both up and down regulation of power levels. The potential is great, because modern products of all types are increasingly microprocessor-based, and open communication standards are sufficient to allow connected devices to be monitored and managed effectively. These products can act intelligently while responding to grid signals, guaranteeing that their core purpose is achieved and minimizing consumer inconvenience.

With real-time status monitoring of the connected devices, a utility system could be built to aggregate the information from the devices to indicate how much power they can supply to the grid if needed and how much power they can absorb from the grid. Aggregated across populations of devices, this approach can provide grid operators or other load management systems with real-time measure of the size of resource that exists at a given time.