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Energy-Focused Group Targets Smart Grid Devices

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July 24, 2009

Energy-Focused Group Targets Smart Grid Devices

By Anshu Shrivastava
TMCnet Contributor
An industry association that’s focused on developing a standard for connecting energy aware consumer products with smart meters says it’s released its first specification for product developers, the so-called “Utility Smart Access Port Bus Specification.”

 
The U-SNAP Alliance – a group of utilities, manufacturers and consultants and that was formed to create and publish a standard, establish testing and certification procedures for product conformance and educate consumers, utilities and vendors on the benefits of the standard – says its new spec gives manufacturers guidelines on how to create U-SNAP compliant interfaces to accommodate radios for several wireless standards such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, WiFi (News - Alert), FM and FlexNet.
 
“The first products based on the U-SNAP specification will consist of a family of communicating thermostats that are expected be on retail shelves later this year,” said Barry Haaser of the U-SNAP Alliance.
 
The specification helps manufacturers build a single product capable of supporting any utility automatic metering infrastructure program or home automation solution.
 
Importantly, Alliance officials said that the U-SNAP Serial Interface is designed to facilitate communication between smart grid devices and U-SNAP communication modules.
 
A smart grid service is a functional element that provides control, monitoring and informational services within a home area network, while a UCM provides a communication interface between an electric utility’s meter and its customers’ smart grid device, such as thermostat, in-home display or electric appliance.
 
According to Haaser, consumers purchasing U-SNAP-compliant thermostats can access them locally or remotely over the Internet. He also said that consumers participating in utility sponsored smart meter programs may be able to use U-SNAP compliant thermostats to show how much they are paying for electricity and much they are consuming.
 
Jon Rappaport, chairman at U-SNAP Alliance, said that several companies are building products based on the first U-SNAP specification, adding that work is well underway to finalize Version 2 of the specification supporting higher-powered radios.
 
“The updated specification will be backward compatible with the first specification, while satisfying utility requirements for demand response programs,” said Rappaport.
 

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Anshu Shrivastava is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anshu’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan
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