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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and its research partners, including start-up Akuacom, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison, have developed an open-source communications specification, OpenADR, which provides a common “language” for technology developed for the Smart Grid.

According to Berkeley Lab, “building controls take pre-planned steps to reduce electricity use in a process called automated demand response (Auto-DR), which is a significant enabling technology of the Smart Grid.” OpenADR allows building control systems to respond automatically to Internet-based signals “that provide electricity grid prices and reliability messages.”

Berkeley Lab, funded by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program and in cooperation with California utilities, has been leading a multi-year research program to demonstrate AutoDR. In order to make Auto-DR technologically possible on a national scale is a common language so that building control software and hardware products made by any company can all communicate with each other. Additionally, as an open-source specification, any company can make products conforming to OpenADR.

Ann Piette Research Director of the Demand Response Research Center at Berkeley Lab says, “Many major controls companies, utilities and grid systems operators have deployed OpenADR-based programs that reduce peak electric demand by tens of megawatts. Honeywell’s acquisition of Akuacom is one of many recent developments that further solidifies OpenADR as a national standard and enables multiple vendors, utilities and ratepayers to deploy tens of billions of watts of automated demand response nationwide.”

Smart grid projects using OpenADR as the communications specification are underway in Quincy and Tallahassee, Florida. Additionally, researchers at Berkeley Lab have also responded to interest from South Korea and India in using OpenADR in their Smart Grid planning.

Piette says “the interest that the private sector is showing in OpenADR, and in Berkeley Lab’s automated demand response research generally, demonstrates that this technology is ready for broad adoption in the marketplace.”

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California and is managed by the University of California.

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