Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Program: Home And Office Energy Management System
Arranged by Steve Steffel, Conectiv

Speaker:  Colin Breakstone, Director
                Business Development Control4 Energy Systems

Energy Management in the home, and in the office.
Control4 is continuing to develop products which link existing electronic devices in the home and office together for central control. Also, the product discussed at this meeting links the control interface to a smart grid meter. 

Control4 started this effort in 2003, now has 1600 dealers in 53 countries. 

NIST has the responsibility for developing the Smart Grid concept. There are 75 new standards so far, but many more are needed. 

Some history in the installation of smart metering; in Las Vegas, using 85,000 Zigbee devices. This was a real networking challenge. In another case, PG&E was installing 10,000 smart meters per day in Bakersfield, CA without adequate customer notification. Customers noticed the smart meters being installed, and coincidentally PG&E increased rates and the weather turned really hot. What customers noticed was that their electric bill increased by 2x. They were convinced the smart meters were the cause—very unhappy. 

In general, customers are not sure that they want more intrusion into their homes, such as that suspected from smart meters. Other dissatisfaction or suspicion areas are dynamic pricing, and the power companies in general. An additional issue is increased use of RF, which might interfere at 2.4 and 5.4 GHz. 

California is now at generation limit; more generation is not cost effective. The high to low use ratio is 2x, plus the regulation that spinning capacity has to be 12 to 15% of the highest load expected. The goal is to level out power use and reduce peaks. Part of the solution to this is to charge for power based on demand, where price would change often during the day. A home area network (HAN) control device could make decisions about thermostats and other devices based on instructions from the controller. The device could keep you advised on your instantaneous power usage and charges as well as long term averages so that you could hone usage to desired charges. 

Software for Control4 devices is based on the Linux operating system and has application features reminiscent of the iPAD. The owner will be able to develop applications with a software kit available with purchase of a system. Device connection is by Zigbee wireless. 

We can expect some of the Control4 devices to show up in Best Buy stores sometime in 2010.

Collin Breakstone:
Recognized as a pioneer in energy efficient systems integration, Colin serves as the Director of Business Development for Control4 Energy Systems. He has over 16 years experience in integrated feedback-driven control systems and has worked with hundreds of stakeholders on diverse projects ranging from off-grid residential developments to billion dollar MDUs.
Collin was an early Eco-Act member, sits on industry panels including the USBGC, contributes to the CEA Energy Efficiency Work Group, DRSG, and serves as co-chair of the CEDIA Green Action Council. 

Prior to working with Control4, Collin was Vice President of the Silicon Valley energy efficiency start up Agilewaves, held executive and engineering positions at system integrators in the United States and founded a renewable energy systems integration company in the Caribbean.