It’s hoped that smart home technologies will help reduce peak time power usage as according to a press release, South Dakota’s State University researchers have been given an $80,000 grant to develop a next-generation residential energy management system. This is designed to help utility companies decrease peak time power usage, passing the savings on to participating customers.
Assistant professors Zhen Ni and Tim Hansen received a one-year grant from the South Dakota Board of Regents and will be partnering with Sioux Valley Energy of Colman which serves more than 23,000 homes, farms and businesses in south-east Minnesota and in east central South Dakota, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Apparently, utility companies purchase energy from power suppliers paying the wholesale market rate which is whatever the electricity costs at the moment. Power suppliers charge less for nonpeak energy because during this time renewables such as wind and solar are in use as well as more efficient generators. In comparison, peak power generators are more expensive to run and are more likely to produce more emissions.
Utility companies are looking at ways to become more energy-efficient using smart home technologies because residential electricity usage in the United States is predicted to increase 24% by 2040. If they can do this, it will result in savings for their customers. With this research project, members will benefit from technology and systems helping to control their electrical demand during peak use times. The researchers intend to develop new optimization algorithms to help minimize energy costs for utility companies combined with a multilevel reward system for customers who move energy usage to nonpeak times. To do this, activities such as charging electric vehicles or doing the laundry will be done during nonpeak times.
The idea is to offer different reward tiers depending on the amount of appliance usage participants are willing to move. Researchers will use the utility and power data from Sioux Valley Energy to validate the proposed system before validating the theoretical results using the smart home laboratory at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.