Olivine is Spearheading an Innovative Dynamic Pricing Demonstration Pilot in Partnership with ecobee

Spearheading an Innovative Dynamic Pricing

Olivine has achieved a major project milestone in the “ecobee smart thermostat demonstration test bed” with the recently successful demonstration of automated end-to-end communication of dynamic pricing signals.  Over the course of one week in late fall 2022, price-informed functional commands were communicated by Olivine to the installed residential ecobee smart thermostats of a diverse collection of households served by PG&E and participating in the demonstration project.

This demonstration project is part of a suite of residential and commercial building technologies being tested and developed in the California Load Flexibility Research and Development Hub (CalFlexHub).

Crossing this milestone was a culmination of key steps taken over the past several months, including:

  • The launch of Olivine’s CalFlexHub Price Server to provide digital price signals to all CalFlexHub partner demonstration sites.
  • The application of the Olivine Logic Control Platform to optimize device usage based on prices and develop functional commands.
  • Olivine’s integration with ecobee to dispatch the commands to the ecobee Control Platform (ECP).
  • Ensuring the ‘last mile’ communications from the ECP to the individual devices. This achievement marks a major step toward automated “price to device” capability.

Olivine recently presented these latest accomplishments of the ecobee demonstration pilot during the Project Showcase: Residential Building Technologies panel at the CalFlexHub Symposium in December 2022.

This project supports the overall CalFlexHub goal to demonstrate dynamic management of high energy demand equipment and appliances, such as air conditioning, electric vehicle charging, batteries, water heating, refrigeration, and water pumping.

One of many demonstration projects under development by the CalFlexHub partnership, this ecobee smart thermostat project provides initial proof that load flexible devices managed at scale will provide meaningful benefits to the utility grid and the environment, helping to lower the risk of grid blackouts, lower energy costs, and bring more clean energy online. As Elliot Mainzer, the CEO of California’s state grid operator CAISO said, we will need “to get literally billions of devices, thermostats and other controllable devices, automated so that they can take signals from the utilities.” These comments came in the wake of the early September 2022 heat wave and grid emergency. Olivine, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the whole CalFlexHub team, are on board to meet the challenge.

The goal of this ecobee demonstration project is to prove out the concept to the smart thermostat industry that business and consumer value of dynamic price-responsive capabilities is highly positive, and that investments in building out the necessary enhancements in smart thermostat technologies are sound. These product enhancements will have a large and immediate scalable impact. There are already over 20 million smart thermostats installed in U.S. households today and robust industry growth is expected in the years ahead. Coupled with the emergence of dynamic pricing initiatives throughout the country, investments by technology manufacturers to increase the capabilities of supporting standardized price to device signals may pay huge dividends to the reliability of the grid, while stabilizing consumer utility bills and mitigating climate change.

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