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Department of Energy putting power in the hands of consumers through technology
Date:1/9/2008

economy and automatically responded to changing electricity prices in five-minute intervals. To reduce usage in peak periods, when electricity is most expensive, the software automatically lowered thermostats or shut off the heating element of water heaters to the pre-set response limits established by individual homeowners.

"We're not talking about traditional demand response where consumers have little or no control," said Rob Pratt, PNNL program manager for the GridWise program. "We're talking about putting the power into the hands of the consumers, who can customize their energy use to save money or maximize comfort. They can check the financial implications of their decisions at any time, and adjust or override their settings whenever they choose."

Participants received constantly updated pricing information via the Internet. The ability to connect the homes with energy providers as well as the grid was made possible through IBM technology known as a service oriented architecture (SOA). A "virtual" bank account was established for each household and money saved by adjusting home energy consumption in collaboration with needs of the grid was converted into real money kept by the homeowners. With the help of these tools, consumers easily and automatically changed how and when they used electricity, for their own financial benefit and the benefit of the grid.

"The tools used in the study gave consumers the chance to be active participants in managing the electric grid. When you give people the right tools, most of the time they will put them to good use," said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton.

The information, communications and control technologies and algorithms provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, IBM and Invensys Controls helped consumers in the study become an integral part of power grid operations on a daily basis - and especially in times of extreme stress on the electrical distribution system. A combination of
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Contact: Christy Lambert
christy.lambert@pnl.gov
509-375-3732
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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