Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE), a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, has selected Honeywell to provide marketing, installation and call center support for the utility's residential Demand Response Infrastructure (DRI) program. The new Honeywell UtilityPRO thermostat also will be a key incentive for the program, which will help cut energy costs for participating customers and give the utility greater control of peak consumption on hot days when air conditioning use strains the power grid.
BGE and Honeywell expect to enroll an estimated 420,000 customers in the program, almost 50 percent of the utility's residential customer base with central air conditioning. This is 20 to 30 percent above typical demand response participation, making this one of the country's largest and most significant residential programs to date. BGE estimates its DRI program will reduce over 600 MW of peak energy use by 2012, equivalent to the generation capacity of a small- to mid-sized power plant.
"BGE's DRI program is part of our overall effort to transform and expand customer options for reducing energy costs and managing energy usage," said David Greenberg, principal electric supply analyst and project lead for BGE's DRI program. "In January 2007, BGE announced its Smart Energy Savers Program, which is comprised of three initiatives: Demand Response Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency/Conservation, and Advanced Metering Infrastructure/Dynamic Pricing."
BGE customers who enroll in the program can receive a professionally installed Honeywell UtilityPRO -- a digital touchscreen thermostat designed specifically for demand response programs. UtilityPRO features wireless technology that lets BGE communicate with the thermostats, and cycle air conditioners on and off for brief intervals. The change in temperature in the home is hardly noticeable, and the cycling helps limit energy consumption on the hottest spring and summer days.
In return, BGE customers receive a thermostat that can reduce energy costs up to 20 percent. Built on the same platform as Honeywell VisionPRO, a programmable thermostat, UtilityPRO features intuitive touchscreen interaction and a large, easy-to-read backlit display. It also offers online programming capabilities so users can adjust settings via the Internet.
BGE can send customized text messages to the thermostats as well -- an industry first. For example, the utility could send weather forecasts to customers, or updates on other energy efficiency and conservation programs. In addition, BGE could provide customers with billing data, including current rates and month-to-date charges.
Customers also can opt for a switch that connects directly to the air conditioner. The switch functions similar to the thermostat, cycling the equipment on and off.
Honeywell Utility Solutions will manage certain aspects of the BGE program, including an integrated marketing plan that will use advertising, direct mail, Web outreach and community events to reach customers. In addition, the company will schedule appointments, install the thermostats and switches, and provide customer service and ongoing maintenance. And it will supply the IT backbone to track all activity and give the utility a single view of the entire program.
Honeywell expects to install the thermostats and switches in less than four years.
"The growing challenge of managing energy consumption requires an assertive answer, which is exactly what we're delivering to Baltimore Gas and Electric," said Kent Anson, vice president of Global Energy for Honeywell Building Solutions. "As the leader in demand response, we have the state-of-the art technology, expert support and comprehensive marketing services necessary to successfully implement a program of this magnitude."