These days, anything that helps consumers better manage energy usage is bound to be a hit. In an effort to promote innovations in energy management and efficiency, several utilities (led by American Electric Power, Consumers Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Reliant Energy, Sempra, and Southern California Edison) recently announced they are working with the ZigBee Alliance and HomePlug Powerline Alliance to develop a common application layer integrated solution for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and home area networks (HANs).

Using the robust capabilities of the ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile as a baseline, the three groups will expand the application layer and enable it to run on HomePlug technology, providing utilities with both wireless and wired HAN industry standards to select from when implementing new AMI programs.

ZigBee Smart Energy enables wireless communication between utility companies and common household devices such as smart thermostats and appliances. It improves energy efficiency by allowing consumers to choose interoperable products from different manufacturers giving them the means to manage their energy consumption more precisely using automation and near real-time information. It also helps utility companies implement new advanced metering and demand response programs to drive greater energy management and efficiency, while responding to changing government requirements.

In May 2008, the ZigBee Alliance certified a number of interoperable ZigBee Smart Energy products from a dozen companies. For a list of ZigBee Smart Energy certified products, visit: http://www.zigbee.org/Products/CertifiedProducts/ZigBeeSmartEnergy/tabid/271/Default.aspx.

Creating a unified solution, using the leading open wireless and wired standards, will expand the development and certification of devices such as thermostats, pool pumps, water heaters, and other high energy use devices ideally suited for connection to a HAN.

Image courtesy of Southern California Edison