An important part of the smart grid vision is enabling communication-connectedness with residential devices so that they can be informed of grid conditions, including energy price, critical peaks, and other curtailment events. Communicating with intelligent devices, rather than cutting their power with a remotely managed switch, provides more flexibility for consumers and allows manufacturers to innovate, discovering creative ways to maximize energy savings while minimizing user inconvenience.

This white paper describes an EPRI project through which industry participants developed a modular interface specification that enables products to be compatible with any demand response system through plug-in communication modules. Many of these participants developed prototype devices based on the specification and participated in a workshop that successfully demonstrated interoperability. If standardized and broadly adopted, this kind of socket interface would enable standard off-the-shelf products to be used anywhere and allow utilities to evolve their systems over time.

When considered as a whole, EPRI research in the area of integration with residential devices points to the need for modularity of the communication elements. The wide-ranging business needs of utilities, the diversity in circumstances (for example, energy price, customer density, terrain, and availability of existing infrastructure), the uncertainty of consumer preferences, the fast pace of communication technology evolution, and the long service life of residential devices together present an integration challenge that may be well served by a modular interface....(Read more...)