Richland, WA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- January 17, 2008 – The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has announced the results of a year-long effort to put the power grid in the hands of consumers through technology. The Pacific Northwest GridWise™ Demonstration Project found that advanced technologies enable consumers to be active participants in improving power grid efficiency and reliability, while saving money in the process. On average, consumers who participated in the project saved approximately 10 percent on their electricity bills.

The project was funded primarily by DOE, with other support provided by utilities and manufacturers. It involved two separate studies to test demand-response concepts and technologies. The Olympic Peninsula Project found homeowners are willing to adjust their individual energy use based on price signals provided via information technology tools. The Grid Friendly™ Appliance Project demonstrated that everyday household appliances can automatically reduce energy consumption at critical moments when they are fitted with controllers that sense stress on the grid. Both studies helped reduce pressure on the grid during times of peak demand.

"As demand for electricity continues to grow, smart grid technologies such as those demonstrated in the Olympic Peninsula area will play an important role in ensuring a continued delivery of safe and reliable power to all Americans," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar. "The department remains committed to working with industry to research, develop and deploy cutting-edge technologies to power our electric grid and help maintain robust economic growth."

The 112 homeowners who participated in the Olympic Peninsula project received new electric meters, as well as thermostats, water heaters and dryers connected via Invensys Controls home gateway devices to IBM software. The software let homeowners customize devices to a desired level of comfort or economy and automatically responded to changing electricity prices in five-minute intervals. To reduce usage in peak periods, 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 service oriented architecture (SOA) technology. 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 Department of Energy's Bonneville Power Administration, PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric, the City of Port Angeles and Clallam County PUD #1 were partners and financial contributors to the Pacific Northwest GridWise Demonstration Project managed by PNNL. Large in-kind contributions from industrial collaborators included real-time event software and distributed automation and analytics developed by IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center.