IEEE on home energy management, Part II

An interview on the thinking behind HEMS

Phil Carson | May 30, 2012



Yesterday we ran the first part of an interview with Oleg Logvinov, member of IEEE-SA Standards Board, vice chair of IEEE Standards Association's P1901.2 Working Group, and director of market development at STMicroelectronics.

(See "IEEE: Standards Will Enable Home Energy Management.")

Today we offer the second half of the interview. We asked Logvinov about the drivers and progress in the standards-setting processes.

Intelligent Utility: The diversity of participants involved in standards setting is a strength, but it can also make reaching consensus arduous. How do diverse participants reach consensus?

Oleg Logvinov: When you have a diverse group of people with diverse sets of experiences, getting to a consensus is always a challenge. Diverse opinions always create an opportunity for disagreement. And I think that's where the expertise of IEEE-SA comes into play. One very important ingredient, in my opinion, is the help they get from the staff in IEEE-SA in guiding groups through how to implement the process for consensus building. That is an absolutely vital element to the success of the project. If you look at the progress made today for the group that I'm very familiar with, as an example, 1901.2, it is a phenomenal example, in my opinion, of being able to go from essentially a concept of a standard, to something that is today in a letter ballot stage within 24 or less months.

Intelligent Utility: What I'm hearing is two-fold. One is that IEEE-SA provides somewhat of a disinterested, third-party guide and process to resolve difficulties. And I sense underlying what you're saying is that the companies involved see the market opportunities and there are substantial financial drivers for each company to arrive at consensus. Would that be fair?

Oleg Logvinov: People would not be in a room if they didn't see an opportunity to use this technology to create revenues and profits. And it is absolutely important to have unbiased help that can guide you to the right goal. Those two things enable people to work together. Is it possible that here and there you'll have undetected intellectual property embedded into the standard?  Yes, of course, it's always a risk. But I think the better your processes, the better your chances are to come out with something that has value and is not at risk of being essentially taken hostage by any one party.

Intelligent Utility: Give us an example, if you will, of interesting developments at the level of specific standards.

Oleg Logvinov: We haven't talked about 1905.1 and I think 1905.1 is a very interesting development because it is the first-of-a-kind step towards abstracting specific home networking technologies and making them essentially invisible to a consumer eye. If you look at 1905.1, it provides a single unified interface that the system sees. And behind this interface today are technologies such as 802.3, 802.11, MoCA, 1901. And those technologies will work behind the abstraction layer essentially in unison and in uniform fashion and the abstraction layer would allow the system to find the best path to get data from A to B or potentially A to B to C if necessary to relay it.  So 1905.1 is the first step in trying to create something that essentially hides the nitty gritty of the communication link away from both the system and the consumer. And I think that's a very promising direction because it opens up the gate for essentially this transition into the "Internet of things" inside the home. 

Intelligent Utility: Is there work necessary in the standards arena to address how consumers will see and control the home network?

Oleg Logvinov: We're just starting to enter this area. As I said before, we're starting to look at what is needed above the communication link. And I think the next phase of standards development will take into account standardization of technologies similar to maybe a Smart Energy Profile 2.0 that is being developed right now. I hope that this technology will transition into the standards world at some time. I think we'll start seeing more and more of that type of application layer standardization that would allow multiple devices to interact among themselves regardless of who the manufacturer is, and achieve this great opportunity to reduce our peak consumption as well as consumption overall. As an example, that means that both the pool pump and your clothes dryer have to have a technology that will allow them to signal to each other about which device turns on and which remains dormant. That requires standardization but at a very different layer. That's application layer standardization.

Intelligent Utility: What are consumers likely to notice first that will signal that they've entered the world of the home network? Dynamic pricing offered by the utility?  Devices on the shelf at Best Buy?  Some sort of central controller that could be applied at the home? Where does the consumer begin to see the realization of all of these efforts?

Oleg Logvinov: We have already started seeing a lot of real world applications. The challenge is to scale it down from something that is very expensive, and typically goes into multimillion dollar homes, to something that can be a product at Best Buy and Fry's and sold into any household. To me, that will really be the entrance into the "Internet of things" era for the consumer's energy consumption and home networking. When we start seeing systems that actually are affordable and can be put into every household that's what will mark the beginning of the era of the "Internet of things" entering the home. I don't think that you will see a very pronounced trigger point. What you will see is a gradual development in many, many areas. In some areas, it will be easily recognized because it's needed, as in electric vehicle charging. If you look at LED lighting, it will bring new applications and new ways of controlling lighting, because by design it's part of an implementation. You will start seeing those islands of more intelligent devices that enter your home first. And then all of a sudden, the footprint of those more intelligent devices will be enlarged to the point where they connect into one unified system. 

Phil Carson 
Intelligent Utility Daily

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Where is all this headed anyway??

The little scraps of the great Smart Grid Scam, taken independently, all look fine. Upon stitching them into a tapestry however, one is left with an incoherent abstraction not unlike a Jackson Pollock painting.

Utilities have a historic desire to load shape and of course it makes economic sense to avoid the construction of new generating stations just for the purpose of satisfying occasional high peaks. But that’s not really the modern objective. The modern objective is to accommodate costly and unreliable “renewable sources”. Along with shaving peaks the addition of high cost storage should improve the technical outlook for renewables even if the net economics are fundamentally unsustainable. Nevermind, the objective is all-things-green-at-any-price.

So, utilities will deploy dynamic pricing, scaled to ensure that the highest-of-high daily costs overlay human circadian rhythms. No need to “sell” the largely-captured-by-monopolies public on new “countermeasures”, they will be clamoring for them. Of course any theoretical “savings” that might accrue from load shaping devices, gadgets and apps will be judged against “necessarily skyrocketing” prices not against current high prices. Accordingly, the devices, gadgets and apps will be seen as wildly successful….based on what they are capable of doing, not for how they are deployed and used. Meanwhile, monthly bills will be higher than ever….likely by a significant margin.

Again, this is not about diverting the construction of more generation. We are adding thousands of megawatts of “renewable sources” annually and stretching transmission lines to every wasteland where a freshly excited electron appears. Still, coming-soon-to-a-utility-near-you will be a coal fired plant closing…the loss of which simply justifies the addition of even more costly and unreliable renewables.

A sane green culture would be encouraging a national initiative toward natural gas powered vehicles. Such a move would have environmental benefits within an economically sustainable template and would have the side benefit of moving the US closer to energy independence. Instead, the Sierra Club, formerly a champion of clean burning $8 natural gas has turned a 180 and has now sworn a literal death oath against $2.50 natural gas.

What EXACTLY is the end game?