2019 Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting

Two pre-conference classes. Three conference days. Eighteen industry presentations. Forty-nine companies. Sixty-nine attendees.

These are the numbers from Itron’s 17th Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting held in Boston, April 2 – 5. While the numbers suggest that this is the largest gathering of electric and gas forecasters in North America, the meeting was more than just numbers.

Throughout the week, participants discussed economic issues, climate trends, energy storage challenges, financial analytics, applications of AMI data, distributed energy resource forecasting and a host of other forecasting problems. Among my favorite discussions were the following.

  • Ryan Sweet (Moody’s Analytics): While challenging the notion of a 2020 recession, Ryan presented a range of economic indicators and how they capture the overall health of the economy.
  • Erin Boedecker (Energy Information Administration): Erin updated us on the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) and illustrated the impact of including the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) into the forecast.
  • Bob Smerbeck (Accuweather): Bob introduced us to “teleconnections”. For those who missed it, teleconnections are climate signals that influence the jet stream, temperature and precipitation patterns throughout the world. Bob showed how the 2013 blob (yes, it’s a technical weather term) mixed with multiple climate signals (teleconnections) created unusual weather patterns over the subsequent years.

While the presentations started the conversations, some of the best interactions occurred over a bowl of clam chowder, walking the historic streets of Boston and arguing over the best cannoli. These moments allowed forecasters to discussion ideas, gain insights and find solutions to their everyday problems.

As Meghan Figalora from Eversource said, “I had a phenomenal time! I intend to harass my manager biweekly to make sure he lets me go next year”.

So, mark your calendars and begin harassing your managers -- the 18th Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting is scheduled for April 22 – 24, 2020 in New Orleans. And be sure to tune in for our next blog where Rich Simons will provide thoughts on P-Values.

Visit our site for more forecasting information at www.itron.com/forecasting.


Five Ways to Be More Resourceful This Earth Day

At Itron, we’re all about resourcefulness. Our technology connects people, devices and insights to better manage energy and water resources, all around the world. As Earth Day approaches, it is important to remember that small acts of resourcefulness add up to make a big difference. Here are five ways you can be more resourceful this Earth Day:

Use Reusable Straws and Water Bottles

Humans buy about 1 million plastic bottles per minute and only around 23 percent of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S., according to the Earth Day Network. By using reusable water bottles, coffee cups and straws, you can play a part in reducing plastic pollution and save money.

Replace Light Bulbs

By replacing inefficient incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year. Speaking of lights, remember to turn them off when you leave a room to conserve energy. While you’re turning lights off, Itron is making sure streetlights around the world are efficiently keeping your communities safe.

Conserve Water

There are many simple ways to conserve water in your everyday life, even a few small changes can add up to hundreds of gallons in water savings. A great place to start is the shower. Take a shorter shower and use a water-saving shower head. It’s also more efficient to only run the dishwasher when it’s full and conserve water outdoors by only watering plants or the lawn in the early morning.

Rethink Transportation

Carpool, ride your bike or use public transportation when possible. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road results in less carbon and pollutants in the air. For every mile you do not drive, your carbon footprint goes down one pound.

Give Back in Your Community

Creating a more resourceful world starts in the communities where we live, work and play. Whether it’s planting a tree or volunteering at a local park, trail or beach clean-up, what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by spending time outdoors.

The way we manage energy and water will define this century—join Itron in taking action to create a more resourceful world this Earth Day. To calculate your carbon footprint, click here.


DistribuTECH 2019: The Full Itron Experience

Participating in the Itron Experience strengthened my understanding of Itron’s vision for smart cities—and provided an important visualization of how energy and infrastructure could be connected and coordinated. The most impressive part of the Itron Experience was being able to dive into specific use cases and see how Itron technology interactions could solve real problems. For example, one demonstration showed how metering and lighting infrastructure could interact and respond during a natural disaster like an earthquake, disconnecting gas and water service, and illuminating exit signs and pathways out of a parking garage—all simultaneously. It showcased the full integration of communications and controls that make smart cities more than just a possibility.

At Exelon, we see the future grid as providing the connective tissue for communities taking on three interrelated challenges: climate change, economic development and quality of life. To do this, we need to design a coherent strategy which focuses not only on grid technologies, but also includes the customer service model and an enabling policy framework. Connected technologies, especially those reliant on grid infrastructure, form the basis for many of the new services we see desired by consumers and communities, and help stakeholders imagine what is possible.

Today, our utilities are investing in infrastructure foundational to our modernization vision, providing a platform to better connect with our customers and strengthen our communities. One recent example is the planned deployment of up to 140,000 municipal smart streetlights in ComEd's service territory, responding to a need of our customers and helping provide lighting to places the city infrastructure currently does not reach.

With the Itron Experience playing a role in helping utilities and cities visualize the technologies that are central to achieving modernization, it’s exciting to imagine what’s possible with a strengthened energy ecosystem and the right technology partner. An intelligently connected world that responds to climate, cyber and physical threat, immediately, securely and autonomously, is one we can all get behind.

Check out the Itron Experience in action here.


Innovation in the Age of ‘Smart’ Tech

Recently, I had the honor of speaking at the National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting. For those who are unfamiliar with the NGA, it is a bipartisan organization representing our nation’s governors that identifies priority issues and deals with matters of public policy and governance at the state, national and global levels. I took part in a fireside chat that was moderated by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, along with Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, about the future of smart city technologies and their deployment and applications. It was a tremendous opportunity, both professionally and personally, to speak on topics that I’m so passionate about.

One of the first topics that Governor Burgum brought up for discussion was about how to pinpoint where efficiency problems occur. As I shared during the panel, smart data is part of the solution since it can intelligently target acute problems and smart analytics can better target investments to proactively fix inefficiencies. Smart communities also need to close the gap of information between providers and their customers about the municipal services received and commodities consumed. Citizens are demanding more timely and accurate information, and Itron is working with our customers to help them deliver that. One way to achieve this is to embrace open standards that can unlock innovation and allow other players to come in and present new ways of doing things. It is imperative to create an environment that enables other people to develop ideas, as there is an incredible wealth of innovation that remains to be tapped.

During the panel, I also shared that smart city technology can really take off through early wins that have quick payback and serve as anchor tenants for other technologies. For instance, we have seen this with smart streetlights and re-lamping with LEDs, which are 70 percent more energy efficient. Starting here, cities can create a canopy where other smart technologies can be added that address air quality, traffic management or public safety. Addressing in this manner enables cities to better manage their economic risk by tackling a specific problem and then building outward with other technologies.

Smart communities need a greater focus on resiliency and modernization of systems to be more reliable and better handle disruption—whether natural or manmade. It was a sobering reality for the governors at NGA to learn that 5 to 7 percent of electricity is lost in the electrical distribution system. And 30 percent of water that is put into the water distribution system is lost before it even gets to the end consumer.

Looking ahead, there is much to be done. I applaud NGA for being open and receptive to the tech industry as a partner to help with these challenges, and Itron will continue to be a proud sponsor of NGA’s “Smarter States, Smarter Communities” initiative. I am incredibly enthusiastic about Itron’s role in this future and how we can help improve energy efficiency and create smarter cities and grids.

To watch the full recording on the panel, please visit: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4781988/itron-deloitte-nga-2019


Developing Net Load Uncertainty Forecasts to Support System Operations

Today, the deep penetration of renewable generation resources system operators are requiring new tools to place reasonable confidence bands around the Net Load forecasts driving operational decisions. In many cases, separate vendors are used to supply real-time forecasts of load and grid-connected solar and wind generation. With multiple vendors, each utilizing a different meteorological forecast, it is unclear how to incorporate uncertainty about loads with the uncertainty about the solar and wind generation forecasts.

For more information, download a paper that presents a general, unifying statistical framework for developing Net Load forecast uncertainty bands that account for load and generation forecast uncertainty.

This statistical approach is based on Professor Robert F. Engle’s seminal paper, Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation, Econometric 50(4): 987-1008. 1982


Empowering the Next Generation

I became a Girl Scout when I was 9 years old, and I was an
active volunteer when my two daughters were Girl Scouts. In 2011, I was
fortunate to join the board for Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and North
Idaho, and I currently serve as first vice chair. I know firsthand the value
that Girl Scouts provides to young women, and as the global digital marketing leader
at Itron, I also understand what it’s like to be a woman in a STEM career.

Empowering the next generation of leaders is key to ensuring
Itron’s mission of creating a more resourceful world. Itron is committed to
partnering with organizations like Girl Scouts to help cultivate future leaders
and innovators. Since today is International Women’s Day, it’s a great
opportunity to highlight what you can do to support STEM careers for young
women in our industry.

It is an uphill battle for women pursuing education and a career in STEM. Women make up half of the college-educated workforce, but are significantly underrepresented in STEM industries. Less than 8 percent of mechanical engineers are women and there are relatively few women in fields such as computer and mathematical sciences, chemistry, physics and engineering.

Because of these disparities, it can be intimidating for
young women to pursue STEM. Often, opportunities in STEM fields are difficult
to find, but by bringing resources directly to these girls, they can learn how
fun and challenging it can be.  Through
community partnerships and mentorship opportunities, girls are learning at a
young age that they are capable and equipped to pursue careers in STEM.

Through our corporate headquarters in Liberty Lake,
Washington, Itron is building a partnership with the Girl Scout Council to
provide programs for girls interested in STEM. Since I am still active with
Girl Scouts, it has been a privilege to help usher collaboration between Itron
and Girl Scouts to bring STEM resources to girls in our community.

For example, Itron sponsored several Girl Scouts STEM nights
at a local children’s science museum. The girls who attended were able to earn
Space, Chemistry, Bugs, Robotics and Money badges. The event provided an
opportunity for girls to get hands-on experience with leaders in the community.

Through events like this, mentorships between young women
and leaders in STEM industries are forged. Mentorships are a huge component of
lifting up the next generation of female leaders. Girl Scouts is incredible at
providing mentors for girls, especially those who may not have opportunities
that are easily accessible to others. Through Itron’s partnership with Girl
Scouts, girls have opportunities to be mentored by amazing men and women in
STEM careers.

By watching these young women and reflecting on my career, I
know that if you put in the hard work, you can do anything. I have found so
much joy working with Girl Scouts; they inspire me with their energy and their
drive to become leaders, innovators, developers and activists. By investing
time and putting forth effort, major change can happen. So today, let’s all
make a commitment to encourage the people around us to succeed. Happy
International Women’s Day.


It’s All the Same, Only the Names Will Change

Last year, Itron was contracted by a small utility (about 11,000 customers) to construct a 10-year-ahead load forecast for capacity planning. I was one of the consultants on the project, and as we usually do when building long-term load forecasts for our clients, we employed our Statistically Adjusted End-Use (SAE) framework.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our SAE framework, it’s an approach to long-term load forecasting that combines elements of both pure econometric models and traditional end-use models. The framework integrates the weather and economic drivers of an econometric model with the saturation and efficiency information of an end-use model. The end-use inputs are used to create powerful, structured, explanatory variables that get dropped in the right-hand side of a linear regression equation. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds, and this approach can be used to model monthly sales, energy or peaks.

You can see from the flow chart that an SAE model has three core terms: XCool, XHeat and XOther. These terms are designed to capture the relative impact of cooling, heating and other equipment on electric loads. The diagram below illustrates how these ingredients might be incorporated into a nice model of monthly sales.

The estimated coefficients (a, bc, bh and bo) can be thought of as statistical adjustment parameters that “true-up” the end-use assumptions to the measured energy use.

Aside from all that technical jargon, what’s especially nice about this framework is that no matter how big or small a utility is, this approach is applicable. Every year at our Annual Energy Forecasting meeting, also known as the Energy Forecasting Group (EFG) conference (hosted this year in Boston, April 3-5), we always kick things off with a discussion on the challenges currently facing load forecasters. Invariably, the list includes how to intelligently integrate new technologies and distributed resources into load forecasts and how to disentangle all the underlying drivers to correctly identify trends in use-per-customer. The SAE framework usually helps utilities obtain answers to these tough questions, or at least gets them started in the right direction because it enables them to decouple the impacts of weather, economics and end-uses on electricity consumption.

It is a tried-and-true method employed by a large number of utilities across North America to better understand the true underlying causes of growth, decline or lack thereof in a utility’s service territory. It’s not necessarily a “one size fits all” approach, but it is a “fits all” framework in that it can be tailored to best suit the objectives of a utility. And, needless to say, it definitely helped us build a reasonable long-term forecast for our client.

If this article peaked your interest and you’d like to learn more about our SAE framework, please feel free to reach out. We also host an SAE workshop the day prior to the start of our annual conference. Otherwise, I hope to see you at the meeting!

See the agenda and who is already registered at http://www.cvent.com/d/pbq67d. For more information on Itron’s Forecasting capabilities, click here.


Smarter States, Smarter Communities

Itron President and CEO Philip Mezey recently spoke to the importance of creating smarter communities at two national conferences: the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) winter meeting and the National Governors’ Associations (NGA) winter meeting in Washington, DC.

NARUC is a crowd we know very well – representing our customers’ state economic regulators (e.g. public utility commissions). The significance of their role and impact in our business cannot be understated. Securing a general session panel for Itron’s CEO to share ideas on smart communities, along with the CEO of Exelon Utilities, Anne Pramaggiore and NARUC President Nick Wager, is a direct result of our many years of support and collaboration with NARUC.

At the NGA winter meeting, Philip spoke on a panel with Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, that was moderated by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a former Microsoft executive. During this fireside chat, the executives shared best practices and the group discussed a vision for smarter states built on solutions that can help governors transform how government interacts with citizens and businesses. This was the first time an Itron CEO has presented in front of the nation’s governors.

In 2018, NGA launched its Smarter States, Smarter Communities initiative, which is designed to educate, accelerate and replicate efforts by states across the nation. Governors have significant convening authority to bring the right parties to the table to create smart communities that work for the greater good, a vision that Itron is proud to sponsor.

Itron is leveraging intelligent technology to connect people with data to create smarter communities and reduce the impact of urbanization. Technology can unlock the power of smart communities, but funding and cost recovery challenges can create headwinds in multi-jurisdictional environments. Public-private partnerships are one collaborative model that have been used to build multi-purpose infrastructure projects across a range of jurisdictions.

As government officials and regulators face increasing pressure to achieve sustainable growth and cost-effectively build resilient infrastructure, these high-profile speaking engagements enhance Itron’s position as a thought leader in the space.


Bringing Innovation to Life: Caltech’s FLOW Rocket Fund

Itron is proud to be a corporate sponsor of the FLOW Rocket Fund at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which is now accepting applications for 2019. The Rocket Fund provides financial and entrepreneurial support to help innovators bring their technology to life.

Startups engaged in cleantech and sustainability-related innovation are encouraged to apply. Entrepreneurial mentoring and financial support ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 is awarded annually to undergraduate and graduate university students as well as recent graduates to help them transform commercially promising ideas into viable prototypes. Innovations around energy efficiency, demand response, smart grid, energy storage, renewables and data analytics are some of the areas supported by the Rocket Fund.

The 2018 award recipients included Antora Energy (energy storage), Brimstone Energy (clean hydrogen), Fullmoon Sensors (gas sensing) and ETC Solar. Supporting incubators like the Rocket Fund gives Itron important visibility into university research and academic breakthroughs, insights into new growth opportunities, early identification of promising new applications, services and technologies, and exposure to new business models.

Innovative ideas come from many sources including employees, customers, vendors, partners and incubators such as Caltech’s FLOW Rocket Fund. The Rocket Fund is one resource that Itron utilizes to gain valuable insights that might benefit the company and identify new business opportunities outside our core business areas.

As an entrepreneur-in-residence at Itron Idea Labs, I serve as an advisor and Itron’s representative on the Rocket Fund’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). I am joined by many of Itron's California-based utility partners on the Rocket Fund TAC, including PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric, SoCalGas, LACI (the Itron-supported Los Angeles Cleantech Accelerator), Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Southern California Edison.

For more information on the Rocket Fund, click here.


Capped vs. Uncapped Degree Days

In energy modeling, we often utilize spline variables to capture the non-linear relationship between consumption and temperature. These variables typically take the form of Heating Degree Days (HDD) and Cooling Degree Days (CDD). In the simplest case, a CDD variable evaluates to a positive value when temperatures exceed a critical breakpoint, while it returns a 0 otherwise. Similarly, an HDD variable evaluates to a positive value when temperatures are less than a critical breakpoint, while it returns a 0 otherwise.

Where:
AvgDB = Average Drybulb Temperature
d = date

In this example, the critical break point is 65: temperatures above 65 return positive CDD values, while temperatures below 65 return positive HDD values. Of course, 65 degrees is not necessarily the point above which cooling starts and below which heating starts—this is for illustrative purposes and these points may differ based on geography and other factors.

To extend this idea, we create multiple CDD and HDD variables, each of which have different critical breakpoints. This allows the model to capture a different weather response at different temperatures. For example:

These are ‘open-ended’ or ‘non-capped’ degree days. CDD65 returns a positive value for all temperatures above 65. CDD75 returns a positive value for all temperatures above 75. Both CDD65 and CDD75 return positive values at temperatures above 75. The following table evaluates the two CDD variables at three different temperatures: below 65 degrees, between 65 and 75, and above 75.

By way of contrast, we can create ‘capped’ degree days, which include a ceiling on their value. The following two equations are alternate yet mathematically equivalent specifications:

These two equations evaluate as follows:

  1. At temperatures below 65, the equations return 0.
  2. At temperatures between 65 and 75, the equations return a value between 0 and 10.
  3. At temperatures above 75, the equations return 10.

To capture the effect of temperatures above 75, we will need another variable. The highest CDD variable must remain ‘open ended’ to capture all possible temperatures above the breakpoint. In other words, this variable is specified identically to the uncapped version.

The following table evaluates the two CDD variables at three different temperatures: below 65 degrees, between 65 and 75, and above 75.

In this simple example, the only difference between the values in Table 1and Table 2 is the value for the first CDD at 76 degrees. In the uncapped version, CDD65 evaluates to 11 and it evaluates to 10 in the uncapped version.

This raises the following question: does it matter if I use capped or non-capped degree days in my model?

To answer this question, we can evaluate two daily energy models. The models include a constant term, a trend, two CDD variables and two HDD variables:

The following figure presents the coefficients from each of the two models, with the non-capped degree days on the left and the capped degree days on the right. The first thing to observe is that the coefficients are the same for the constant term, the trend variable, CDD65 and HDD60. However, the action happens in the extreme degree-day variables.

In the uncapped model, the effect of the extreme degree days also incorporates the effects of the less extreme values. In this example, temperatures above 75 are incorporated in both the CDD65 and CDD75 variable, wherein the coefficient on CDD75 represents the marginal effect of those observations. That means the net effect of a temperature above 75 is the sum of the coefficient for CDD65 and CDD75. Similarly, the effects of the HDD50 also incorporates the effects of the HDD60.

In the uncapped model, the sum of the coefficients on CDD65 and CDD75 is 25,571.0, which is exactly equivalent to the coefficient on the CDD75 in the capped model. Similarly, the sum of the coefficients on the HDD60 and HD50 variables is 7,817.7, which is exactly equivalent to the coefficient on the HDD50 in the capped model.

There are a few observations:

  • The remainder of the coefficients are identical.
  • The model statistics are identical in the two specifications.
  • These results occur in monthly models as well.

There are times, particularly with monthly models, where the uncapped degree days—primarily the extreme values—will be statistically insignificant. This occurs because there is collinearity between the degree-day variables. If there is concern about the optics of including insignificant variables in the model (e.g. from management or regulatory oversight), the capped degree days provide a solution, as they will typically be highly significant. Rest assured however, the results will be identical.

The takeaway is that you can use whichever approach you prefer – with impunity.

Feel free to download the associated MetrixND file to play with on your own.

Be sure to check out our forecasting website for all your forecasting needs at www.itron.com/forecasting.


DistribuTECH Insights: Blockchain in Energy and Intelligent Streetlights

The last day of DistribuTECH 2019 last week prompted an engaging discussion about the impact of IoT and blockchain on current and future energy delivery models. With a rapidly evolving technology landscape, today’s utility industry is becoming increasingly complex on all fronts. As a result, we are starting to see an interrelationship between emerging grid architectures to support integration, IoT and network architectures that reinforce distributed computing in the grid, and blockchain 101 for energy systems.

During a breakout session on “The Impact of IoT and Blockchain on Current and Future Energy Delivery Models,” Jim Ogle, senior manager of network engineering at Avista Utilities, provided a utility’s perspective on how disruptive technologies like blockchain and smart contracts will play a role in evolving traditional utility business and service delivery models. The conversation kicked off around transformation and disruption in the industry. Ogle noted there is a confluence of influences coming together to really steer us in this new direction, and a core part of that is the realization and acceptance that we need to operate our businesses and consume our resources in a more sustainable manner.

“The environmental forces for us are a significant driver for looking to do things differently. If you look at decarbonization, the adoption of renewables and distributed energy resources (DERs), and the electrification of transportation, those things are all coming together to have us rethink how we provide energy to customers and how they want to consume that energy.”

Those influences are also driving new business models, creating new markets and new opportunities, and changing the way energy is delivered. The need for increased security is driving new advances for technologies like blockchain, which is accelerating the ability for us to recognize other drivers for change.

A common theme throughout DistribuTECH was how utilities are now thinking about products and services as more than just the generation, transport and metering of energy. They are taking a customer-centric view of how they move forward in the face of customers’ changing expectations.
The grid can provide more choices for how consumers are going to consume energy. In order to accomplish this, Ogle said there needs to be more awareness. He predicts there is ultimately going to be a tiered framework of coordination for DERs, asserting utilities need to have intelligence out there at the edge to offer local choices so that customers can have energy where they need it and how they want it.

With distributed intelligence, devices need to talk to each other, which relates back to IoT. The grid, IoT and distributed intelligence are all coming together to have a systematic effect on this new energy ecosystem, tying together these different technology forces and physical forces.

Ogle went on to discuss the importance of security and how blockchain will play a role. He described blockchain as a distributed, immutable ledger technology that enables shared trust and transparency. “In the old world of banking, you had a centralized bank you would grant trust to manage your account and they would create a ledger to keep track of debits and credits.” With blockchain, Ogle said you are distributing that ledger to all these different nodes that are participating on that chain. And through a combination of traditional cyber security, public key/private key transactions, you get ensured trust as these peer-to-peer transactions take place, and everyone has a ledger or record of those transactions. There is a variety of things that can fit this model in the energy industry as we start thinking about the distributed grid.

Ogle provided a use case example about Avista’s micro-transactive grid project where they have created a smart city pilot area in its university district in Spokane. Avista has many different DERs serving multiple buildings and customers. They have batteries, solar, building management systems and metering. In trying to optimize the use of DERs while also providing a grid-optimal solution, Avista believes better results can be achieved for all parties involved if they were coordinating together, rather than being independent and trying to optimize alone.

Part of Avista’s project is to start exploring peer-to-peer energy transactions where they would have a blockchain that is operating a node in the microgrid controller, a node in the building management system or a node on the AMI meters. “These nodes can start working on transacting energy out of smart contracts that say if this event occurs, I want to switch from consuming energy from this battery device over there. The direction is to implement this on the blockchain.”

We learned that transactive energy, basic authentication and authorization are all opportunities for blockchain use cases. Another example of using blockchain in a different way is to ensure the security of the data that is being exchanged between the configuration data and the edge devices on the grid.

This panel provided great insight into the projected impacts of disruptive technology trends and how they can be harnessed to ensure a pathway of innovation towards enabling our next-generation intelligent grids and distributed energy ecosystems.

In another session, we heard from Okechukwu Chika, principal project manager for grid modernization within ComEd’s Smart Grid & Technology Department. Chika led an engaging session on intelligent streetlights as the foundation for smart cities. He educated the crowd on ComEd’s pilot smart streetlight program. The six-year deployment, expected to be completed in 2023, covers the conversion of all 140,000 ComEd-owned “cobra-head” style streetlights to smart LED fixtures.

The smart functionality of each LED fixture head is seated with a smart node. ComEd has deployed smart nodes on its streetlights using Itron’s NIC (networks interface card) to communicate on the Itron network, which allows for real time on/off control of streetlights and dims lights to less than 100 percent power on a set schedule.

Chika said ComEd experienced many benefits from adding intelligence to their streetlights, one being improved response time to outages. Before, the utility was able to detect outages if a customer told them or if they drove by and saw that the light was out.

“We use Itron’s Streetlight Vision (SLV) software to control and monitor our smart streetlights. It produces streetlight outage tickets in real-time with precise streetlight locations, allowing us to respond faster and be more efficient with the crews we send out.”

Itron will connect and manage up to 140,000 municipal smart streetlights across ComEd’s service territory, leveraging Itron’s multi-application IPv6 networking platform that ComEd is using for a variety of smart grid applications. This initiative will accelerate municipal lighting modernization and smart city development in northern Illinois.

Stand by for more updates on ComEd’s smart streetlight program as it sets the new standard for streetlights and advances ComEd’s efforts to transform the electric system serving 70 percent of Illinois!


Itron Idea Labs at the Cleantech Open Global Forum

I recently represented Itron Idea Labs at the Cleantech Open Global Forum held in Los Angeles at LACI, the Itron-sponsored Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. With a decade-long track record, the Cleantech Open is the world’s largest accelerator of early-stage clean and renewable technology companies.

At this year’s event, 15 semi-finalists were selected from the 100 cleantech startups that participated in year-long accelerator programs operated by CTOs at eight North America regional accelerators and their international affiliates. In the end, Radical Plastics bested the other finalists — Sanos Nutrition, Sepion Technologies, Social Solar, South 8 Technologies and YouSolar — to win the $50,000 grand prize. Addressing the global environmental plastics pollution crisis, Radical Plastics has developed an exciting technology for the manufacture of cost-effective, ecologically-friendly, soil biodegradable plastics.

A runner-up, Sepion Technologies, has developed a promising platform membrane technology for lithium ion batteries that overcomes the shortcomings of conventional ceramic membrane technologies (scalability, power density and cost) thus enabling cost-effective electric vehicles (EVs) with a 400-mile range as well as grid-scale battery storage. Targeting transportation, grid storage and aerospace applications, South 8 Technologies has created an innovative Liquefied Gas Electrolyte chemistry for electrochemical energy storage (EES) devices including lithium batteries and electrochemical capacitors. Such EES solutions will be critical for the efficient and reliable storage of energy generated from renewable resources such as solar and wind. ESS also holds the promise of delivering the performance, reliability and efficiency essential to drive the growth of the EV and portable electronics industries.

Based on the creativity, passion and commitment demonstrated by these Cleantech Open startups, the future of both the cleantech industry and the utilities sector seems bright—and Itron Idea Labs is excited to be part of the conversation!


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