Up to 600 residential electricity customers may participate in a smart water heater emerging technology demonstration project that enables better management of energy. A smart water heater is a water heater with a modular communication interface that will be able to receive and respond to demand response (DR) signals from utilities. By enabling the smart water heater to send and receive the utility's signals, the water heater can help support the grid. By changing the time when, and at what rate, it re-heats water the tank acts like a battery; controlling the re-heat rate has the same effect on the grid as storing or releasing energy from a battery. These small changes in when and how often water heaters run can be a valuable tool in grid management.
Renewable energy such as wind and solar is increasing on the electric grid. However, these intermittent generating resources create integration challenges for utilities. DR can be a cost effective tool to reduce customer's electricity demand for brief periods. It can also be used to help the grid absorb extra energy when needed. Using CTA 2045 communication technology, utilities are able to use the inherent energy storage capability of water heaters to smooth out the intermittent nature of renewable generation. Enabling this low cost communication port on every water heater in the Pacific Northwest could mitigate the cost of renewable integration and provide support to the electric grid.