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What is Pecan Street?

Headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin, Pecan Street Inc. is a research and development organization focused on developing and testing advanced technology, business model and customer behavior surrounding advanced energy management systems.

Our flagship effort is the Pecan Street Demonstration, a smart grid research project that began in Austin’s Mueller community and has since expanded across Texas and into California and Colorado.

The organization is comprised of two divisions.

The Pecan Street Research Institute is a scientific research institute, focused on advancing understanding and solutions addressing utility system reliability, climate change, renewable energy integration and customer needs and preferences. The Institute is the nation’s most significant creator of original customer energy use research data available to the research community. Pecan Street’s specific research expertise consists of creating, managing, protecting, analyzing and responsibly sharing the highest quality original research data on how customers use electricity, natural gas and water in their homes and businesses.

The Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization offers specialized capabilities for developing, testing and validating a wide range of smart grid, distributed energy and consumer electronics hardware and software. Learn more at www.pikepowerslab.com.

The initiative began in 2008 as an effort to spark the nascent “smart grid” market in Austin the way that the MCC and SEMATECH consortia sparked the region’s semiconductor and information technology sectors a generation ago.

Representatives of the founding members – the City of Austin, Austin Energy, The University of Texas, the Austin Technology Incubator, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Environmental Defense Fund – enlisted the participation of nearly a dozen private companies to explore the technical, economic and policy implications of an energy system that relies on better energy efficiency, locally generated renewable energy and a new economic model for electricity utilities.

During that initial effort, the founding partners formed a stand-alone organization called Pecan Street Project Inc. that would carry on the effort’s vision beyond the release of the report of recommendations.  The 501 (c) (3) non-profit Pecan Street Project Inc. was incorporated in August 2009, before the report of recommendations was released, and renamed Pecan Street Inc. in 2011.

The new organization’s first objective was a successful application for a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant for a smart grid demonstration at Austin’s Mueller community.  The grant was awarded in November 2009, and the demonstration is currently being implemented.

Through the Pecan Street Research Institute and Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization, the organization continues to explore research and commercialization efforts on a wide range of energy and consumer electronic topics.