GE, Tendril Form Joint Energy Management R & D

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- General Electric Co. said Wednesday it will work with Tendril Inc. to better manage how and when energy is used.

The GE-Tendril joint research and development project focuses on GE refrigerators, washers, dryers and other appliances electronically linked to so-called smart meters. Such meters, in turn, receive signals from a local utility when its overall demand load is peaking, at which point the smart meter tells the appliances -- known as demand-response appliances -- that utility rates are going up. In response, appliances can either delay operations or proceed at lower power settings.

For example, a demand-response dishwasher might delay its wash cycle in response to a smart meter signal until late at night when the utility is facing lower overall demand and power costs less; or a microwave oven being used to cook dinner might slightly power down with the result that it takes longer to prepare an evening meal.

Home owners are able to override settings that determine an appliance's response to smart meter signals.

Demand-response appliances and smart meters are being used more as utilities raise fees during peak usage hours.

Boulder, Colo.-based Tendril makes the communications systems, known as Tendril Residential Energy Ecosystem, that link smart meters to both demand-response appliances and utilities.

"With 37 percent of total U.S. electric energy consumption associated with residences, and as utilities implement tiered pricing structures across the U.S., demand response appliances will enable consumers to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually and positively impact load reduction on the grid by better managing the electric power we generate," Tendril said in a statement.

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