T&D World Magazine

Itron and Ember Team Up on ZigBee-Enabled Energy Demand Management

Ember and Itron have teamed up to help electric utilities reduce peak load demand and home owners conserve energy by using ZigBee-enabled wireless technology.

Itron has integrated Ember's ZigBee technology into its OpenWay by Itron Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) platform. Specifically, Itron's OpenWay CENTRON smart meters are embedded with Ember's ZigBee chips and software to provide a two-way communication pathway to the home for energy load control and demand response. The technology enables homeowners to make more informed decisions about their energy usage and promotes energy conservation.

OpenWay CENTRON smart meters serve as a gateway for Home Area Networks (HANs) of wireless devices such as ZigBee thermostats, load control devices, in-home displays, and smart appliances. Itron's OpenWay smart meters also support time-of-use pricing, load profile data and other advanced features required for "Smart Grid" initiatives, such as California's Title 24 regulations aimed at modernizing the electric grid to reduce peak demand. These features include full two-way communication between the home and utility, a load-limiting remote disconnect and reconnect switch, positive power outage detection and restoration notification, voltage monitoring, theft detection, and the ability to reprogram the meter remotely.

OpenWay CENTRON smart meters use Ember's chip and EmberZNet PRO networking software platform, which supports the ZigBee PRO Feature Set, to communicate with ZigBee-enabled devices in a home. ZigBee networks are self-organizing, self-healing and can operate for years on inexpensive batteries, making it easy for consumers to deploy their own energy-conserving HAN. The Ember system interfaces the HAN with load control devices, enabling utilities to efficiently manage a household's energy consumption during peak load demands, among its many other intelligent applications. The bi-directional meter also continuously measures and displays active energy delivered to the home, letting consumers see where, when and how energy is being consumed. This helps consumers actively participate in the conservation of energy and contribute to protecting the environment, while also managing their costs for power.

"Studies show that demand response programs can reduce peak electricity demand by five percent over the next five years, saving consumers more than $3 billion in annual electricity costs," said Dennis Natale, Ember's director of sales for the America's. "Moreover, they can help reduce the $50-$100 billion in losses that businesses suffer each year due to power outages and brownouts. AMI solutions like Itron's OpenWay will help consumers and utilities work as a team to conserve energy and make the grid work more efficiently."

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