East Hanover, N.J.-based Comverge, Inc., recently launched the nation’s first ZigbBee-enabled demand response program as part of a pilot sponsored by the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET), Austin, Texas. Using ZigBee-enabled demand response thermostats, SuperStat, and digital control units (DCUs), Comverge successfully executed load control operations from its hosted data center in Atlanta to selected residents in Houston. The CCET pilot is designed to integrate demand response systems with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology. The Houston pilot is being conducted across 500 homes within the CenterPoint Energy, Houston, service territory and includes retail electric provider participation from Houston-based Reliant Energy, Dallas-based TXU Energy, and Houston-based Direct Energy.

The ZigBee-enabled demand response system uses an AMI product from Itron, Liberty Lake, Wash., integrated with Comverge’s demand response technology. Itron’s OpenWay Centron smart meters, currently being tested in a limited deployment by CenterPoint Energy, communicate with Comverge’s SuperStats and DCUs to control central air conditioning systems and other high-usage residential appliances, such as electric water heaters and pool pumps. During times of high electricity usage, Comverge’s demand response system can change thermostat settings by a few degrees or cycle off air-conditioning systems for short periods of time by using the AMI system as a two-way communications infrastructure. The system will also enable more advanced options such as in-home displays, critical peak-pricing programs, and other price-responsive rate options.