i3 | December 12, 2018

Connecting Homes to the Smart Grid

Leslie King
Smart City

As consumers and homeowners, we are using more electronic devices and appliances, and looking for ways to conveniently connect those products to our home network. We expect our gadgets to “stay on,” but that can also mean higher energy bills. Being able to determine our energy usage and adjust usage based on personal needs can help consumers manage their energy costs.

The smart grid vastly improves our nation’s energy infrastructure by allowing for instant, real-time information sharing between an electric utility and its customers. With the right equipment, consumers can monitor and manage their homes’ energy use. This same equipment also enables the electric utility to digitally respond to changing electricity demands or conditions, maximizing network efficiency and minimizing costs for both utilities and their customers alike.

ANSI/CTA-2045-A, Modular Communications Interface for Energy Management, outlines specifications for a communications interface (known as a modular communications interface or MCI) that facilitates communications between residential devices and the smart grid for applications such as energy management. This interface can pass simple communication through standard protocols, allowing energy management signals and messages to be exchanged among devices in a home and the smart grid system. These devices can include consumer products such as sensors, thermostats or appliances, as well as energy-related equipment such as energy management hubs, energy management controllers and residential gateways.

As explained by Dr. Kenneth Wacks, Chair of CTA’s Modular Communication Interface for Energy Management Committee:

“Utilities worldwide are investing heavily in smart grid infrastructures to ensure a reliable supply of electricity and to accommodate new technologies for power production. Smart grid programs are being offered to consumers for energy conservation, and for energy management to align demand for power with available supplies. Consumer devices equipped with ANSI/CTA-2045-A interfaces can participate in energy management programs such as demand response and can interconnect with distributed energy resources including local generators (wind and solar) and energy storage devices.”

A Look at One Case

Con Edison in New York has made CTA-2045-compliant modules available to customers buying packaged terminal air conditioners typically found in hotels, hospitals and apartment buildings. Under the Con Edison program, the utility can remotely adjust a customer’s thermostat on hot days when the demand for power is high, saving both the customer and Con Edison money. The customer is always in control, though. Customers are electronically notified when their thermostat has been adjusted by the utility and the customer can manually override the utility’s action. The program is part of Con Edison’s strategy for maintaining reliable service during extreme weather conditions.

ANSI/CTA-2045-A, revised in March 2018, has several companion standards for smaller interface designs and device profiles including message sets for thermostats, firmware transfer and generic display. Members of CTA’s Modular Communication Interface for Energy Management Committee have made efforts to harmonize ANSI/CTA-2045-A with international standard ISO/IEC 10192-3, Modular Communications Interface for Energy Management.

CTA’s standards committee is considering additional message sets for lighting control and solar inverters. Contact Leslie King: lking@CTA.tech for information on how to get involved.

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