PNNL ‘smart’ technology helps homeowners reduce grid stress

Richland, Wash., July 22, 2009 – A simple computer chip that is changing the way the energy community thinks about power supply and demand is available for licensing.

Developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the GridFriendly Appliance Controller continuously monitors the electric grid and alters homeowners’ consumption when the grid is stressed.

The appliance controller can be installed in household appliances and adjust their energy use for a few minutes or even a few seconds to allow the grid to stabilize when a disruption is sensed.

Following initial government investments in the technology, the appliance controller was further developed and subsequently patented by Battelle, which operates PNNL for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Work is underway with several appliance manufacturers and utilities to demonstrate the technology in a variety of projects with appliances. The controller is ready for licensing in all fields.

What started as a pilot research project to develop more effective and less costly methods of grid stabilization, has evolved into a technology ready for commercial deployment. In two previous demonstration projects, PNNL tested the controller’s demand-response capabilities; the appliance controller successfully confirmed its ability to reliably recognize and respond to events when the measured grid frequency went outside the desired limits.

Benefits to the energy efficiency technology include: power grid reliability, smaller bills for consumers, more efficient power plant use and inexpensive manufacture.

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