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TMCNet:  Austin Energy Goes Live With AutoGrid DROMS to Conduct First Demand Response Events With ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Network and Customers' Choice of Thermostats

[August 05, 2013]

Austin Energy Goes Live With AutoGrid DROMS to Conduct First Demand Response Events With ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Network and Customers' Choice of Thermostats

AUSTIN, TX, and REDWOOD SHORES, CA, Aug 05, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- Customer choice in energy management took a significant step forward this month when Austin Energy successfully conducted back-to-back demand response events with the Demand Response Optimization and Management System (DROMS), a cloud-based platform from AutoGrid Systems that reduces critical peak power safely, securely and unobtrusively through Big Data analytics.

Austin Energy's program is groundbreaking in providing customers with a choice when it comes to hardware. Under the Austin initiative, consumers are allowed to select their own thermostat from a number of different manufacturers, including ecobee. The program also covers Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations from ChargePoint, the largest network of EV charging spots worldwide. Consumers are free to opt-out of individual events.

Using AutoGrid's DROMS platform, Austin Energy was also able to plan and declare demand response events more quickly than logging into multiple vendor portals would require. The events occurred on July 11, 12, 25, 31 and August 1, the first of many to come this summer.

As the weather heats up, programs like these will be crucial to prevent electricity demand from exceeding supply, which can lead to exorbitant bills or blackouts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) predicts this summer's peak load to be even higher than the all-time record high of 68,305 MW set on August 3, 2011.

"Austin Energy and AutoGrid are creating a blueprint for making demand response a widespread phenomenon," said Stuart Lombard, President and CEO, ecobee. "Consumers want to participate in these programs and lower their bills, but they also want to have the final word on what thermostat will best suit their home comfort needs. We believe this sort of flexibility and control, along with the lower costs inherent in a software-based system, will accelerate the implementation of demand response." These events also mark the first time EV charging stations are used to dispatch multiple chargers in a residential setting.

"We're very happy with the results," said Dimitrios Papadagonas, Vice President of Marketing of ChargePoint. "This shows that load from EV charging can be managed easily and that smart EV charging networks are an asset for improving grid reliability." Traditional demand response systems have typically required proprietary hardware to be installed in homes or commercial buildings. Scheduling a demand response event with conventional systems can also take days or weeks of planning to ensure participation. Expense, complexity, and lack of consumer choice have limited the acceptance and expansion of programs in the past and led to higher cost for utilities by creating vendor lock.

"We are very excited to work with Austin Energy, one of the true visionaries in the electric utility industry, and industry leaders such as ecobee and ChargePoint in making true customer choice a practical reality," said Dr. Amit Narayan, founder and CEO of AutoGrid. "Austin Energy's program is a perfect example of how open, scalable and extensible demand side management program can improve consumer adoption and satisfaction while solving grid challenges cost-effectively and reliably." DROMS is compatible with thermostats and other equipment from over 100 manufacturers and is the only system in the market capable of supporting multiple standards such as OpenADR 1.0, OpenADR 2.0, Smart Energy Profile 1.x and 2.0, simultaneously. By providing the ability to connect to a wide range of devices from a broad spectrum of manufacturers through multiple communications channels, AutoGrid's DROMS makes participation in demand response events more accessible and enjoyable for customers.

DROMS is a cloud-based demand management system that employs Big Data analytics, a physics-based model of the grid and information streams from smart meters and other grid assets to accurately predict electricity demand. The near-term forecasts permit utilities, grid operators and large power consumers to securely shift power consumption to meet financial or operational goals. DROMS can cut the cost of demand response systems by 90 percent while increasing the "yield" of power from demand response events by 30 percent. DROMS is the first application built on AutoGrid's Energy Data Platform.

Some of the highlights of the Austin Energy program: -- Consumers were able to select their own brand of thermostat at retail outlets and enroll in Austin Energy's program through the portal provided by the device manufacturer.

-- Austin Energy was able to notify customers via email in addition to direct communication across different devices and channels of communication for automated participation in events.

-- On the demand response event for July 11, 85 percent of the available ChargePoint EV charging stations and 80 percent of customers with ecobee thermostats enrolled in the program participated in the event.

-- On July 12, 100 percent of ChargePoint stations participated and 90 percent of ecobee customers participated. The remaining 10 percent of the customers opted-out through the thermostat portal.

-- Austin Energy was able to reschedule the July 12 event across all devices within two minutes of deciding, a process that would take much longer logging into multiple vendor portals.

-- The DROMS system is able to generate detailed reports and analytics across device groups, load shed policies such as absolute or relative temperature, duty cycle, randomized start time.

-- Austin Energy is able to group events based on the reason the event was created in DROMS system. These reasons could be peak management, grid reliability, wholesale market demand charge, or locational marginal pricing, among others.

About AutoGrid Founded in 2011, AutoGrid is dedicated to bringing the power of Big Data, predictive analytics and Internet scale computational techniques to the production and consumption of electricity. Serving utilities of all sizes, grid operators, electricity retailers, ESCO services companies, and end-users, AutoGrid develops and markets software solutions that both help lower costs and improve reliability of the electricity supply chain. AutoGrid's technology was awarded the prestigious Department of Energy's Advanced Projects Research Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funding in 2012. For more, please see our website or contact us.

About Austin Energy Austin Energy is the nation's eighth largest community-owned electric utility, serving more than 420,000 customers. The utility is a recognized leader in renewable energy, smart grid technologies, and energy efficiency initiatives as well as integrating these technologies into commercial operations. It has set goals of getting 35 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2020 while reducing emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels.

Contact for AutoGrid: Sharon Chan AutoGrid (415) 361-8219 sharon@eastwick.com SOURCE: AutoGrid Systems mailto:sharon@eastwick.com

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