Pecan Street Inc. Selects Companies for Consumer-Focused Smart Grid Offering

Press Release • September 30, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact:   Colin Rowan, media@pecanstreet.org, (512) 799-64oo

Best Buy, Check-It, Chevrolet, Freescale, Intel, Landis+Gyr, Sony, SunEdison and Whirlpool to provide range of new smart grid and consumer products, including communications platforms, home services systems, smart appliances, charging of cars from home solar panels and one of the nation’s most concentrated residential installations of electric vehicles

(AUSTIN – September 30, 2011) – Pecan Street Inc. today announced the companies that will join it in creating a consumer-focused smart grid built around home applications and consumer electronics. The companies  – Best Buy, Check-It, Chevrolet, Freescale, Intel, Landis+Gyr, Sony, SunEdison and Whirlpool – will test consumer products on a smart grid platform and dedicate researchers to Pecan Street Inc.’s smart grid demonstration project in Austin.

“To be relevant, smart grid innovations must solve consumers’ problems and provide services that excite them,” said Pecan Street Inc. executive director Brewster McCracken.  “We are thrilled to have these forward-thinking companies working with our researchers and with the hundreds of residents who are volunteering their homes and their time.”

“The University of Texas professors and students carrying out Pecan Street research are very pleased to be working with these innovative companies on such cutting-edge applied research,” said Tom Edgar, UT engineering professor and Pecan Street board officer who serves as the research team’s principal investigator. “This announcement demonstrates once again how a research university-public-private partnership can serve as the catalyst for innovation and provide real world benefits.”

The consumer products and platforms to be provided will include:

  • Electric vehicles: Chevrolet and Pecan Street Inc. will team up to provide 100 Chevrolet Volts for lease or purchase to participating residents. This will mark one of the nation’s highest residential concentrations of electric vehicles. To date, more than 130 residents within a one-square mile area have signed up to buy or lease a Volt.

Click here for high-res photo and details of the Pecan Street Chevy Volt program announced this week.

  • Home services systems: Best Buy with Check-It, as well as Intel, Sony and Whirlpool will deploy home services systems that serve as the operating platform for consumer smart grid products and services. These systems can provide consumers with a range of home security, energy management, health care monitoring, home improvement, entertainment and labor-saving services. In many of the participating homes, the systems will be capable of measuring and reporting near real-time usage of electricity or natural gas and water.
  • Smart appliances: Whirlpool will test smart appliances and provide guidance and research collaboration on integrating smart appliances into home services systems to provide enhanced consumer services. Whirlpool will work with service installation experts including the Geek Squad to install and provision the smart appliances.
  • Home solar panel charging of electric vehicles: SunEdison will lead the research team’s work to develop home solar panel charging for the Chevrolet Volts. A number of the SunEdison-led home solar vehicle charging systems will also have in-home batteries, and all systems will integrate into Best Buy/Check-It, Intel, Sony and Whirlpool home services systems. More than 150 participating residents will have rooftop solar PV, including nearly all of the residents who acquire Volts.
  • Smart meter integration: Landis+Gyr will leverage its smart grid network platform and will install several hundred E350 FOCUS AX smart meters with Smart Energy Profile for smart consumer product connectivity. These meters and the associated communication networking platform will make it possible for the Best Buy/Check-It, Intel, Sony and Whirlpool home services systems to integrate pricing and demand management information from utility distribution systems.

Pecan Street Inc. made the announcement at the conclusion of its annual retreat for member companies and researchers on The University of Texas at Austin campus. The member companies – who collaborate in smart grid-focused consortium research with Pecan Street and UT researchers – include Best Buy, Freescale, Intel, Landis+Gyr, LG Electronics, Oncor, Oracle, Sony, SunEdison, Texas Gas Service and Whirlpool Corporation.

The field trials of consumer-focused products will largely take place in a group of Austin neighborhoods located less than three miles from the Texas Capitol, including the newly-built Mueller neighborhood (where all homes are green built and less than four years old) and older adjacent neighborhoods (where homes generally range in age from 50 to 75 years). The electric, gas and water utilities that serve the test area – Austin Energy, Texas Gas and Austin Water – are each providing meter integration and research support to project researchers and participating companies.

About Pecan Street Inc.
Headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin, Pecan Street Inc. is a smart grid and clean energy research and development organization.  Incorporated in 2009 (as Pecan Street Project Inc.), Pecan Street Inc. began operations through seed funding from The University of Texas. Since then, the organization has provided over $3 million in direct funding to UT researchers and students. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

In November 2009, the organization received a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus award for a Smart Grid Demonstration Project at Austin’s Mueller community. In November 2010, it received an award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to research the impact of energy efficiency retrofits in older homes.  Both research projects are currently underway in Austin.

In 2011, several companies – Best Buy, Freescale, Intel, Landis+Gyr, LG Electronics, Oncor, Oracle, Sony, SunEdison, Texas Gas Service and Whirlpool Corporation – joined the Pecan Street Consortium as Industry Advisory Council members. These companies work with Pecan Street and University of Texas researchers on a range of smart grid research, including the demonstration project at Mueller.

The organization’s board includes representatives from The University of Texas, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, the Austin Technology Incubator, the City of Austin and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. More information is available at www.pecanstreet.org.

Contact:  Colin Rowan, Pecan Street Inc., 512-650-4442, media@pecanstreet.org

Best Buy Co., Inc.
Best Buy is a leading multi-channel global retailer and developer of technology products and services, helping deliver the technology solutions that enable easy access to people, knowledge, ideas and fun. The company is also committed to developing and implementing business strategies that bring sustainable technology solutions to consumers and communities.

Best Buy will work in partnership with the other companies to provide installation and services through Geek Squad across the products and systems engaged in the Pecan Street smart grid demonstration.

Contact:  Kelly Groehler, Best Buy Communications, Public Affairs, & Corporate Responsibility, 612-291-6115, Kelly.Groehler@bestbuy.com

Check-It
Check-It is a leading provider of innovative energy management solutions across North America. The Check-It Energy Services Platform (ESP) monitors energy consumption at many different levels, utilizes commercially available hardware devices from various manufacturers and harnesses the power of cloud-based computing. The Check-It ESP collects, stores, analyzes and displays information in real-time, providing consumers with valuable insight into their personal environmental impact, and more importantly, tools to modify their energy usage from anywhere at anytime.

Check-It will partner with Best Buy to provide home energy management systems to help Pecan Street residents make their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable in a hassle-free system. Best Buy and Check-It will provide a secure, easy to use web portal and smartphone application to understand when and where energy is being consumed and the capability to adjust and control home electrical devices remotely. These services can range from turning off lights while on the way to work, understanding how well the air conditioner is performing compared to others in the area, or receiving an alert when kids arrive home from school. The Check-It systems will be installed and serviced by Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

Contact: Jami Manastyrski, Check-It, 877-524-3255, jami@check-it.ca

Chevrolet
Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 120 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers gas-friendly solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

Chevrolet will provide 100 Volts for purchase or lease by qualifying residents participating in the field trials. Pecan Street will provide a $7,500 cash contribution to residents who purchase a Volt (bringing the expected purchase price down to a base price of approximately $25,000) or $3,000 to residents who lease a Volt for three years (with an expected monthly lease charge of $350). Residents who purchase or lease a Volt must participate in the research trial but otherwise will have no restrictions on their use or charging of their Volt. Goals of the project include residential technology integration testing, including integration of vehicles into home services systems, and working with SunEdison and other participating companies on testing approaches for residential vehicle charging with home solar panels and batteries.

Contact:  Craig Eppling, Chevrolet communications, 469-417-7080, craig.eppling@gm.com

Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale provides a wide range of Smart Energy solutions including Grid & Smart Metering infrastructure and Home & Building Area networks. Freescale’s technology and solutions are used today in designing smart meters, home energy managers, networked smart gateways, communication solutions for inside the home and out, data concentrators, renewable energy solutions and electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

Freescale will apply its technology and systems knowledge both in compliance testing for the home and testing communications protocols that can be used for in home communications and EVSE-to-car communications.

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing and sales operations around the world. www.freescale.com.

Contact: Andy North, corporate and microcontroller public relations, Freescale Semiconductor, 512-996-4418.

Intel
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices. Additional information about Intel is available at newsroom.intel.com and blogs.intel.com.

Intel, led by researchers from Intel Labs, will carry out a “deep dive” pilot of home automation and management systems in up to 50 homes in the Pecan Street demonstration project. Intel researchers, including experts in sensor networks, system integration and automation and consumer preferences, will work with participating residents on next generation systems that provide solutions that consumers identify and value, particularly focusing on unobtrusive means of identifying energy use patterns by device types in the home.

Contact:  Christine Dotts, Intel, 480-554-7959, christine.dotts@intel.com.

Landis+Gyr
Landis+Gyr is the leading global provider of integrated energy management products and offers a combined portfolio of advanced metering and smart grid automation solutions to utilities. With annualized sales of more than US$1.5 billion, Landis+Gyr operates in over 30 countries across five continents, and employs 5,000 people with the sole mission of helping the world manage energy better.

Landis+Gyr will leverage its smart grid network platform and will install several hundred E350 FOCUS AX smart meters with Smart Energy Profile for smart consumer product connectivity at the homes of volunteer participants. With these meters and the associated networking platform, Landis+Gyr and other participating companies will be able to test technical interoperability and value propositions created through integrating meter data into home services systems.

Contact:  Vicki Trees, director, Marketing Communications North America, Landis+Gyr, 218-562-3850, vicki.trees@landisgyr.com.

Sony
Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world.  Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $87 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011.  www.sony.net

Sony is aligned with the Pecan Street vision and is actively participating as an Industry Advisory Council member to encourage and support the organization’s goals and objectives. As a participating member, Sony will test and deploy a customer centric Home Energy Management System (HEMS) based on a differentiated user experience. Sony’s HEMS will experiment with new solutions that may leverage Sony Group’s CE products and entertainment services.

Contact: Koji Kurata, Sony, Koji .Kurata@am.sony.com or Ranson Burkette, Sony, Ranson.Burkette@am.sony.com.

SunEdison
SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. (NYSE: WFR), is a global provider of solar energy services. SunEdison develops, finances, installs and operates distributed power plants using proven photovoltaic technologies, delivering fully managed solar energy services for its commercial, government and utility customers. In 2010, SunEdison deployed more than 160 MW of solar throughout the world. For more information about SunEdison, please visit www.sunedison.com.

SunEdison will lead consortium testing of residential electric vehicle charging using the home’s rooftop solar panels to identify the most effective architectures and value propositions created by such systems. It will provide solar power systems for Pecan Street’s home research lab and commercialization center (currently under development), where pre-installation testing by member companies of vehicle charging will take place.

Contact: Bill Michalek, corporate communications for SunEdison and MEMC, 636-474-5443, bmichalek@memc.com.

Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool will provide connected smart appliances with advanced information technology and energy management capabilities in a number of participating residences. Participating residents will take part in deciding the precise appliances installed. Whirlpool will provide a complete end-to-end smart appliance solution including its home-grown home energy management system along with all the HAN networking components and the smart appliance suite; and work with each of the home services systems providers and with participating residents to test, quantify and expand the benefits created through integrating smart appliances into homes with vehicles, solar panels and home services systems.

Contact:  Kristine Vernier, Sr Manager, Global Public and Media Relations, Whirlpool Corporation, 269-923-3978, kristine_m_vernier@whirlpool.com, or Joseph Lui, Global Director, Connectivity and Smart Grid, Whirlpool Corporataion, 269-923-4934, t_joseph_lui@whirlpool.com