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The ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile has been completed, offering utility companies a global open standard for implementing secure, easy-to-use wireless home area networks for managing energy.

ZigBee Smart Energy enables wireless communication and control between utility companies and common household devices such as smart thermostats and appliances. It improves energy efficiency by allowing consumers to choose interoperable products from different manufacturers, giving them the means to manage their energy consumption more precisely using automation and near real time information. It also helps utilities implement and support advanced metering, demand response, load control, pricing, and customer messaging programmes.

With the global energy crisis, many countries are facing energy supply and demand imbalances that will require alternative energy management and efficiency solutions like ZigBee Smart Energy. For example, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reported that electricity demand in the United States is expected to increase by 135,000 MW in the next decade yet only 77,000 MW of new resources have been identified, creating a shortfall of 58,000 MW – an amount equivalent to 110 large power plants. Energy management and efficiency solutions can bridge the gap. For example, the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently released the results of a year-long study showing that households with digital tools controlling temperature and price preferences saved on average 10 percent on utility bills. The study also showed that if households have digital tools to control temperature and price preferences, peak loads on utility grids can be cut by up to 15 percent.

A number of Alliance members are currently building products that will be certified by the Alliance to support ZigBee Smart Energy. These companies include: Cellnet+Hunt, Ember, Freescale Semiconductor, Itron, Tendril and Texas Instruments, who are ZigBee Alliance Promoter member companies and members of the Board of Directors which is responsible for setting the Alliance’s direction in the energy sector. Some of the other members building ZigBee Smart Energy products include: Alektrona, Computime, Comverge, Control4, Corporate Systems Engineering, Daintree Networks, Digi International, Elster, Energate, Frontline Test Equipment, Golden Power, Greenbox Technology, LS Research, PRI Limited, Radio Thermostat Company of America, Riga Development, Trilliant Networks and Wireless Glue Networks.

For a detailed list of features of ZigBee Smart Energy, see www.zigbee.org/imwp/download.asp?ContentID=12484