June 2009


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Ed KochEMAIL INTERVIEW - Ed Koch & Ken Sinclair

Ed Koch, Co-Founder and CTO of Akuacom

Ed Koch is currently Co-Founder and CTO of Akuacom where he is responsible for Akuacom’s architecture and technical directions. From 1992 - 2002 Ed was Co-Founder and CTO of Coactive Networks which provided hardware and software solutions for linking applications on IP networks with control networks, wherein a majority of Coactive’s business was in the Utility and Energy sector. Before that, he managed the Automotive Systems Department of Navteq, where he led development of the first Route Guidance Systems, which are widely deployed today. Ed is very active in the Smart Gird community, especially in various standardization efforts. He has over 25 years experience and has been involved in and led standardization efforts in the Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems, Consumer Electronics Associations, and IEEE.  Email to ed@akaucom.com 

Open Automated Demand Response

How can Automated Building vendors take advantage of OpenADR to automate their Smart Grid market participation?

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Sinclair:  Who is Akuacom? 

Koch:  Akuacom is a San Rafael, California, software service company whose mission is to enable Automated Market Participation for Utilities and ISOs. Akuacom provides technology and services for Automated Demand Response (Auto-DR). Akuacom’s open and interoperable messaging infrastructure for the Smart Grid  is used by Utilities and ISOs to automate the delivery of DR program and tariff signals to facilities and third party intermediaries such as aggregators. At the core of the messaging infrastructure is the Demand Response Automation Server, or DRAS, a software as a service platform that fully supports the emerging OpenADR standard.

Sinclair:  What type of energy markets does Akuacom currently offer services in?

Koch:  Akuacom operates the DRAS server integrated with IT systems for retail DR programs with a number of west coast IOU’s and Utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electricity and BPA/Seattle City Lights. Akuacom is also enabling a wholesale market Ancillary Services Participating Load implementation with the CAISO and Pacific Gas & Electricity.  

Sinclair:  What are some of the emerging markets that automated buildings can participate in?

Koch:  There are current opportunities to participate in wholesale and retail markets, and research or pilot programs funded by the Smart Grid stimulus package. Beginning next year all the IOU’s in California will be offering new dynamic pricing tariffs that facilities with interval meters will be in by default. This represents a large near term deployment expansion opportunity. In April the CAISO launched its new Market Redesign and Technology Update (MRTU) that offers new opportunities in the wholesale market. Across the US, wholesale markets are offering a variety of programs including voluntary load response, day-ahead markets, real-time markets, and ancillary services for responsive reserve, non-spin reserve, and regulation up/down.

Sinclair:  What standards does Akuacom leverage for their messaging infrastructure?

Koch:  In short the messaging infrastructure developed by Akuacom leverages an emerging standard called OpenADR (Open Automated Demand Response) that was developed at the Demand Response Research Center (DRRC) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Akuacom began working with the DRRC in 2005 to develop an open messaging infrastructure for automating demand response. The focus of the messaging infrastructure was on the communications between the Utilities/ISO's (grid) and the facilities. The focus was not so much on a particular networking technology, but a set of data models and interactions between the Utility and Facility. The objective was insure that it could easily leverage existing networking technologies such as IP communications and SOA architectures so that control vendors could embed into their equipment the ability to receive grid reliability and pricing signals from Utilities and ISO's. Many of the existing DR programs in CA were used to develop the requirements for the messaging infrastructure and what resulted was a set of standardized data models and interactions between the utility and the facility that proved to be cost effective and relatively simple to implement for many of the facilities that were already involved in DR programs, thus enabling them to fully automate load control processes that were either manual or only semi-automated in the past. The research went from pilots to full scale commercial deployments across CA in 2007.

Because of the success that the messaging infrastructure experienced with deployments in the CA marketplace, an effort was begun in 2007 to develop a specification that could be leveraged into a formal standard. That effort involved a number of key stakeholders including all the IOU's in CA, the CAISO, EPRI, NIST and BACnet among others and resulted in the OpenADR specification. That effort was completed in late 2008 and was released as an official California Energy Commission document (http://drrc.lbl.gov/openadr/pdf/CEC-500-2009-063.pdf).

It is important to note that OpenADR is agnostic to specific control network protocols and technologies within the facility and does not specify what shed strategies are to be used within the facilities upon receiving an OpenADR signal. The facility is free to implement any load control strategy that is appropriate for the loads within the facility and the automation technologies that may exist to control those loads. In other words the facility is given complete latitude to customize and implement whatever control strategy best fits the particulars of that facility.  This works particularly well for commercial and industrial facilities where the necessary capabilities and need for a customized shed strategy exist.

While the data models of OpenADR are agnostic to the various control networks within the facility there has been a conscious effort to insure that OpenADR is designed to facilitate the consumption of DR signals by control systems in general. This means that care has been taken to design the data models to allow easy consumption of the signals by control systems and to allow for facility managers and integrators to easily devise rules for how to respond to the signals so that the desired control strategies can be specified and implemented.

In addition, to ease the consumption of the OpenADR signals by controls systems a number of interfaces have been developed. One such interface leverages the use of BACnet Web Services and in the future there will most likely be interfaces to other industry standards, such as OPC, thus mapping the standard data models of OpenADR to a variety of networking technologies that may be used within the facilities.

Furthermore a plan has been put in place to leverage the success of OpenADR into a formal standard. The OpenADR specification has been donated to OASIS (OASIS - http://www.oasis-open.org/home/) and UCAIug (UCA International Users Group (UCAIug): www.ucaiug.org) and committees have been formed in each of those organizations that will further develop the OpenADR specification.

contemporary Sinclair:  How is OpenADR related to the NIST Smart Grid roadmap?

Koch:  As your readers may be aware, NIST has been tasked with developing a standards roadmap for the Smart Grid. There have been a number of workshops the last few months dedicated to identifying key existing and emerging standards that can be used to implement the Smart Grid. OpenADR has been identified as one of the key emerging standards and was put on the list of so called "Low Hanging Fruit". How OpenADR will be harmonized with some of the other standards recognized by NIST is a work in progress. Many of the other identified standards are horizontally oriented specifications geared towards controlling devices in specific infrastructure domains (e.g. Utility infrastructures in the case of 61850 or home area networks in the case of Zigbee and the Smart Energy Profile) while OpenADR is a vertically oriented specification that is focused on a specific application domain (DR) and the related information exchanged between the Utility and facilities regardless of the infrastructures or protocols on either the Utility or facility side.

Sinclair:  How can Automated Building vendors take advantage of OpenADR to automate their Smart Grid market participation?

Koch:  First and foremost I would encourage vendors, integrators and facility managers to become familiar with the OpenADR specification and get involved with the development of the standard either within the UCAIug or OASIS. If you are interested in getting involved in the UCAIug effort you can contact me at ed@akuacom.com. If you are interested in the OASIS effort please contact Bill Cox at wtcox@coxsoftwarearchitects.com. In addition there is a lot of publicly available research on automated demand response done by the DRRC and available at http://drrc.lbl.gov/.

OpenADR is already in use in CA and with its status as a key emerging standard the potential markets that will utilize OpenADR are poised to increase rapidly. With the new dynamic pricing tariffs in CA that will come into existence next year there will emerge a huge potential marketplace for facilities to automate their load management and by extension for control vendors to sell into. To help with the development of these emerging marketplaces an OpenADR Collaborative is in the process of being formed. The Collaborative will be composed of Utilities, vendors, integrators, facility owners, regulators and researchers. The main purpose of the Collaborative will be an exchange of information that will help to facilitate the adoption of OpenADR by education, outreach and marketing. Anyone interested in the collaborative should contact Olcay Ungun [olcayungun@openadrcollaborative.org]. There is an OpenADR Collaborative workshop planned during Connectivity Week on June 8th.

In addition Akuacom hosts an OpenADR Client development program that allows control vendors to get access to their own Demand Response Automation Server for the purposes of developing and demonstrating the integration of their control equipment to OpenADR. We offer free documentation and sample code that allows vendors to easily integrate the ability to consume OpenADR signals into their control equipment. Any parties interested in this program should send an email to devprogram@akuacom.com


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