Next-Generation Residential Energy Market

Smart meters measure electricity use in near real-time and have been installed in more than 40 percent of homes in the United States. One of the reasons for installation was the idea that consumers who have more information about their energy use in real-time would consume less. The initial promises of smaller electric bills, reduced electric generation capacity, greenhouse gas reductions, and a more energy-engaged society have yet to materialize.

As the Kathy Dwyer Marble and Curt Marble Faculty Director for Energy at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Edwin A. Cowen, Civil and Environmental Engineering, is leading a team of Cornell researchers and industry partners to help enable a next-generation residential energy market. This market will reduce consumers’ costs, increase the flexibility of the electric grid in order to integrate varied renewable energy sources, while also increasing the robustness of electricity delivery.

The main thrust of the project is building, testing, and optimizing smart service systems to control rechargeable batteries and electric vehicle charging with emphasis on human behavior. Cowen is working with faculty from multiple departments at Cornell as well as industry partners, investors, and government agencies with a shared intent to bring large-scale solutions to the market.

As a test bed, researchers are leveraging an existing Energy Smart Community, comprised of 12,400 smart meters and a wireless data network in the Ithaca, New York area. With data from this population, as well as model systems, researchers are simulating how a smarter service system with rechargeable batteries—controlling when the battery charges (purchases electricity from the grid) and when it discharges (avoids purchasing)—can affect costs and demands on the grid.

The resulting smart service systems will help realize the promised savings for consumers, create new business opportunities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The systems will be highly marketable and transferable to utilities throughout the world.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1 Million spanning 3 years