In effort to fill the gaps that currently exist between utilities and their customers in the burgeoning “smart grid” demand response arena, Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. has announced an initiative to broaden the use of its existing technologies that are used today in many “whole home” and “whole building” lighting systems.
The company hopes to move quickly to help connect power utilities “smart metering” to the electrical infrastructure in both residential homes and commercial spaces. The initiative will also include focused, new technology development efforts led by a newly-formed Energy Solutions Business Unit. The long time leader in electronic control systems for lighting and automatic window coverings and the inventor of the first practical dimmer switch for the home, Lutron made the announcements at the Greenbuild Expo 2009, sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
“Smart grid and other demand response regulations are going to be a big part of the future,” said Dr. Ian Rowbottom, principle engineer for Smart Grid Products at Lutron. “Because of our expertise in whole home and whole building total lighting controls and solutions, we believe Lutron is uniquely positioned to help utilities create the kind of connection that will make demand response really productive and accepted. We know that if we can control lighting throughout a space—in many cases wirelessly—we can control other electrical loads as well.”
Lutron believes that the end user or consumer needs to have a say in the matter. They need to be “partners” in the process of controlling and reducing demand.
“It is important to have a system where an end user or consumer can easily program customized protocols and hierarchy for taking down energy consumption in their respective spaces when a utility smart grid meter calls for it,” said Rowbottom. “Some may take lighting down first, others specific rooms, and others may take down the heating and air conditioning. Everyone wants to conserve energy; we want to give people a choice on how they do it.”
Another important factor in the success of demand response is to provide a simple way, likely via the internet, for users to see exactly what their electric consumption is, and where, in real time. “Knowing exactly how you are using electricity is critical if you are going to be able to control consumption in a way that won’t be disruptive,” said Rowbottom.
Lutron believes it has the products in place now that can enable a workable demand response system. “On the commercial side, our Quantum® total light management system and Q-Manager with IntelliDemand™ can handle the control and programming respectively. Green Glance™ is the software that can provide review of energy consumption,” said Rowbottom.
On the residential side, the company believes that its recently introduced RadioRa2® whole home lighting control system can serve as the backbone system for demand response in the home.
As part of the smart grid initiative, Lutron’s new Energy Solutions Business unit will be reaching out to both the public and private sectors to discuss how to integrate their technology with that of others to accelerate both commercial and residential smart grid solutions.
“We hope to expand our discussions with utilities that are looking for partners to pilot ways to make smart grid real,” said Michael F. Smith, Vice-President of Energy Solutions. “We are a technology and innovation company that is deeply committed to help accelerate energy savings and provide workable demand response solutions.”
For more information about Lutron Electronics, visit www.lutron.com.