Honeywell has announced a three-year contract extension to manage the KCP&L Energy Optimizer program, which reduces energy demand when air-conditioning use is at its highest.

As part of the extension, participating customers will now receive the Honeywell UtilityPRO programmable thermostat. The new thermostat will give KCP&L greater control of peak consumption and help customers cut their energy costs.

Since the program's inception in 2005, Honeywell has installed more than 30,000 thermostats, doubling the original three-year goal. The thermostats include a communications module that allows KCP&L to connect with the devices and cycle air conditioners off and on for brief intervals. This only happens on the hottest days of the year, when energy use spikes.

Honeywell plans to install an additional 50,000 thermostats, all UtilityPRO, in houses, apartments and small businesses by the end of 2011. As a result, KCP&L will be able to reduce approximately 80 megawatts of peak energy use -- equivalent to the generating capacity of one combustion turbine, which can power approximately 40,000 homes.

"Program success depends on maximizing customer participation," said Kevin Bryant, vice president of Energy Solutions for KCP&L. "UtilityPRO is an appealing incentive that will help drive enrollment, making Energy Optimizer an even more effective means to defer new peaking power plants while maximizing customer savings."

KCP&L customers who enroll in Energy Optimizer now receive a free, professionally installed UtilityPRO, which combines utility peak demand reduction capabilities with Honeywell's best-selling programmable thermostat.

Homeowners and businesses get a thermostat that is simple to use and effective. Its intuitive logic and menu-driven programming help increase energy savings while maintaining comfort. UtilityPRO also offers top-of-the-line features like touchscreen interaction and a large, easy-to-read backlit display. And it includes online programming so users can adjust settings via the Internet.

For KCP&L, UtilityPRO helps improve customer service by allowing the utility to send customized text messages to customers. Specifically, the utility can send information like weather forecasts or updates on other conservation programs.

Honeywell will continue to provide program management, installation and call center support as part of the contract extension. The company will also provide an expanded scope of marketing services for Energy Optimizer, including an enhanced customer Web site and customer research to better identify and reach target customers.

"Utilities are tasked with managing energy consumption in the face of increasing demand and fiscal concerns, and Energy Optimizer is an ideal example of how it can be done effectively," said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. "Honeywell provides the expertise and technology to successfully deliver demand response programs, which are essential to managing the energy grid and keeping electricity affordable."