Duke Energy (Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.) and Echelon (San Jose, California, U.S.) announce an expansion of the Duke Energy Utility of the Future project, one of the most advanced and innovative projects currently under way in the United States to add intelligence and automation to the electricity grid.

Duke Energy has put considerable effort into rethinking what it means to operate an electric utility in the 21st century. Duke Energy's goal is to define the infrastructure necessary to generate, deliver and use energy more efficiently, and to provide its customers with the information and tools needed to allow them to make better energy decisions.

Duke Energy's long-term vision is to transform the operation of its electric power grid by creating a reliable and scalable networked infrastructure capable of delivering and receiving information from intelligent devices distributed across its power systems, automating components of the distribution systems and leveraging the linked networks for improved operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

Duke Energy plans to deploy smart Networked Energy Services (NES) meters and related infrastructure to approximately 57,500 of its customers in three different service territories.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is one component in the smart grid. Echelon's NES system is designed to provide the core networking infrastructure of the smart grid by building on open standards to cost-effectively connect utilities and their customers over a highly reliable two-way network. NES meters, which are installed at each residence, are an integral part of this communications fabric. These meters also include a market-leading set of advanced functionality that goes beyond the billing-oriented features found in other meters to provide a range of information about the health, quality and operation of the grid.

Echelon's products and technologies are used in smart buildings worldwide where they have become an accepted and widely adopted standard for control systems in buildings. In homes, Echelon's technology is a home control standard in the United States and an intelligent community standard in China.

The company's Digital Home Alliance is a group of companies that is bringing control applications and energy-aware home environments to market through smart appliances and devices. Echelon's technology is also emerging as the leader in managed street lighting applications and an enabler of demand-response programs.