GE To Make Energy Efficient Smart Grid Appliances

GE (NYSE: GE) announced today it will develop and manufacture Smart Grid-enabled appliances that will shave energy peaks for utility companies and save consumers money. Also, at a press briefing at the National Press Club, President and CEO James Campbell discussed provisions of the American Clean Energy and Security Act that will continue the progress in Smart Grid development, especially the recognition that appliances will play an essential role in realizing the full potential of the Smart Grid.

“I’ve been in the appliance business for nearly 30 years. I’ve seen many innovations and changes in the industry. Some have been nothing short of revolutionary,” explained GE Consumer & Industrial President and CEO James Campbell. “I think Smart Grid-enabled appliances will usher in another revolution, a revolution in which these appliances will enable us to use energy more wisely and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And, in the process, GE and other manufacturers will lead the way to a new era of U.S. technology leadership and create thousands of jobs that go with it.”

Integrating appliances into the Smart Grid is critical because residential housing consumes 37% of the electricity produced in the US. Appliances, Lighting and HVAC represent 82% of electricity consumed in the home. According to a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report, residential demand response programs can affect the largest potential reduction in U.S. peak demand. This avoided demand is equivalent to the generation capacity of 108 coal plants over a ten-year period.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act as passed by the House will provide assistance through the Best in Class Appliances Deployment Program. This program will provide incentives to appliance manufacturers to develop and manufacture these new demand response products.

“With incentives, we will have the opportunity to accelerate development and get new products to market faster, creating “green” American jobs,” said Campbell. “Also, by incentivizing smart appliances now, manufacturers can add demand response capability to a significant portion of their appliances in the future … preparing American households to realize the full benefits of the Smart Grid when it’s fully deployed. This approach is the only way to rapidly transform the market so that it will be ready as the Smart Grid is built.”

Smart Grid-enabled, smart or demand response appliances benefits:

As demand response appliances interact with the Smart Grid they have the ability to temporarily reduce power or delay some normal operations without interfering with the consumer’s daily needs because the consumer can override any of the appliance’s actions.

Some examples of how demand response appliances will operate during peak times are:

  • A refrigerator will delay its defrost cycle – a cycle that takes more energy than normal operating mode – until the energy load is lower;
  • A dryer will reduce the wattage used by the heating coils;
  • A dishwasher will delay its start until a time of day when energy usage is lower.

In a pilot program between GE and Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) utilizing GE employees as pilot participants, participants said demand response appliances have saved money and energy. Dana and Mark Bryan of Louisville, KY stated the appliances also have led to changes in their energy using habits. “It’s helped me get more organized,” says Dana. “I now unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning and then fill it throughout the day. After dinner, I set it to run and the smart programming delays it until after 10 p.m.” Mark reports a 20% reduction of total electrical consumption in the months he has participated in the program. “As part of the pilot, I have an in-home energy monitor. It lets me know the rate I am paying and the instantaneous electrical consumption. Watching that meter has driven behavior changes in my house that have resulted in reduced energy consumption. That explains a portion of the 20% reduction.”

In fact, based on data from the Olympic Peninsula, Gridwise Test Bed demonstration project, consumer awareness created by Time of Use pricing (TOU) & Real Time pricing (RTP) has led to significant consumer savings. Consumers under a TOU/RTP billing plan supported by enabling technologies, such as pricing communication, a home energy display, smart thermostats, and smart demand response appliances saved as much as 27%-30% of their monthly bill.

GE’s first commercially available Smart-Grid enabled appliance:

The first of GE’s demand response appliances – the new Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater will be available later in 2009. In its normal operating mode, termed "Hybrid Mode", the new water heater will require about half the energy of a standard electric water heater and will save about $250/year in energy costs. However, its demand response capability has the potential to reduce peak energy consumption from 4,750 watts to 700 watts—a full 4 kW and an 85% reduction.

In addition, this innovative new product will be creating American jobs. Production of the Hybrid Electric heat Pump Water Heater will move from overseas to Louisville, KY in 2011 and will add 400 new jobs to the American economy. Other demand response appliances are expected on the market in 2010.

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