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Wind Farms Will "Talk" to Appliances

by Staff
BPA Journal, September 2010

BPA and Mason County Public Utility District Number 3 are partnering on a smart grid pilot project to help manage the electricity grid and use wind power more effectively.

The project addresses two fundamental bottlenecks in the power grid: congestion during times of high power use and the imbalance created when more wind-powered energy is being generated than is being used.

Mason County PUD 3 will install special devices on water heaters that will communicate with the electrical grid and tell the appliances to turn on or off, based on conditions on the regional electrical system and the amount of renewable energy available. Homeowners can override the water heater device at any time, and, with modern insulated water heaters, it is unlikely they will even notice a change in water temperature.

Shifting water heater energy use to a time when consumption is lower helps level out the peaks and valleys of energy use, which makes the balancing act of supply and demand a little easier. This is especially valuable when managing variable power sources like wind power. And reducing electricity use during peak hours can help Mason County PUD 3 and its customers save money.

Another goal is to see if the device can determine when wind power is readily available and fire up water heaters to take advantage of it. The wind energy heats up the water, which is stored for the family's use.

Installation of the devices in 100 participating homes should begin in October.

Wind Farms Will "Talk" to Appliances
BPA Journal, September 2010

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