Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy announced it has signed an agreement with Cisco to pilot and further develop a smart grid-enabled home energy management solution that will provide Duke Energy customers with secure and reliable energy information and a simple-to-use tool to help them reduce the amount of energy wasted in their homes.

Duke Energy is testing the first-generation Cisco Home Energy Management Solution this summer with customers in Charlotte, N.C., and in Cincinnati, where the company has installed digital smart-grid technologies. Through these year-long tests, Duke Energy and Cisco will listen to customers and gather feedback about their interactions. This information will be used to build in additional customer-desired functionality.

"Home energy management functionality is an important step in providing customers with an enhanced energy experience that is simply not achievable with today's analog grid," says Gianna Manes, Duke Energy senior VP and chief customer officer. "Customers want to save money on their energy bills, but it has to be easy. With Cisco's proven expertise in Internet Protocol-based, open system networks, we're confident our collaboration with them will result in a solution that provides customers back-of-mind simplicity and real back pocket rewards," Manes says.

"Cisco is excited about working with Duke Energy to bring entirely new models of energy management to their customers," says Paul Fulton, Cisco general manager. "Cisco’s Home Energy Management System is like a ‘virtual energy assistant’ for consumers and one we look forward to enhancing with Duke and an ecosystem of partners. Together, we can help consumers undergo the transition to new pricing options and enjoy the benefits of better insight into, and control over, their energy consumption."

In addition to home energy management, Duke Energy and Cisco will work to bring together manufacturers of household products like appliances, electrical outlets, air conditioners, water heaters, and plug-in electric vehicles to create an ecosystem of products that connect with the Cisco Home Energy Management Solution.

The two companies will also look beyond energy to explore the benefits of broader home management solutions. With an adaptable network, appliances, electronics and other home devices — regardless of the design or manufacturer — will work in concert to create and overall energy experience for customers.