Fort Collins Utilities adds grid-interactive water heater program to its DERMS solution

This utility room includes a heat pump water heater. | Photo courtesy of Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Colorado-based utility takes advantage of Itron’s distributed energy resource management solution to reduce energy usage.

Today, Itron, Inc. announced that it helped deploy a grid-interactive water heater program for Fort Collins Utilities (Utilities), which provides electricity, water, wastewater and stormwater services to more than 75,000 customers in the City of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The program, which is managed by Itron, enables new distributed energy resource technologies to connect electric resistive and heat-pump water heaters to operate during periods when excess renewable energy is available or to pre-heat water tanks, supporting Utilities’ energy savings goals. Electric hot water heaters are the second highest electricity-consuming appliance for most residential customers, after air conditioners, said Itron. The ability to pre-heat water prior to peak electric-use periods can reduce a significant amount of enrolled residential customers’ electric costs during peak times – up to 15 to 20% – by shifting it to non-peak times.

Itron is providing full, turnkey support for Utilities’ grid-interactive water heater program, including hosting its distributed energy resource management (DERM) solution – IntelliSOURCE Enterprise cloud-based software – along with marketing, call center, data analytics support and field services. This solution contributes to the full portfolio of Itron’s DERM solutions already in place at Utilities, including connected load control switches, smart thermostats and in-home displays.

Through the program, Utilities will be equipped to expand its current demand response capabilities of shedding water heating load, storing energy and initiating events to consume excess electricity. With this new program, Utilities is demonstrating the use of the existing Itron IntelliSOURCE platform using OpenADR integration and CTA-2045-compliant components to solve modern grid challenges. CTA-2045 is a communication protocol that expands interface options and, in conjunction with an OpenADR-based demand response system, provides more flexible control and a more predictable resource when needed.

“At Fort Collins Utilities, we are committed to providing highly reliable and affordable electric and water services to our customers. This program is another way in which we are taking advantage of Itron’s DERM solutions to improve grid management and energy efficiency. The program has demonstrated the efficiency and flexibility of grid interactive water heaters, which will help Utilities better manage the grid and equip our customers to save money and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Pablo Bauleo, Sr. Energy Services Engineer. “The program targeted low-to-moderate income residents by partnering with Neighbor to Neighbor, a local nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing, making this effort not just about technology, but community and equity.”

“We are excited to see the early success of Utilities’ water heater program. With Itron’s distributed energy resource management solution, Fort Collins Utilities will be better positioned to enable customers to maximize value,” said Don Reeves, senior vice president of Outcomes at Itron. “This project involving water heaters is a great example of how Itron is expanding the capabilities of our DERM solution to optimize and control additional end-use devices that enable grid reliability and stability.”

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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