Cisco has revealed details of a new home energy management pilot project, this one with German utility Yellostrom.

The project will look to Cisco to link the utility's Yello Sparzähler smart meters over Internet protocol (IP) networks at 70 homes and businesses in Germany, the two announced Monday.

The project will include home energy management systems to set appliances to run during times when electricity is at lower demand, such as during the night, through the use of wall socket adapters, or "smart plugs" that can turn on and off.

Giving customers a better view of their energy use can help them cut power bills by about 10 percent, the companies said. Adding the off-peak controls for major appliances can boost that to about 15 percent, they said.

The project will also seek to linksolarpanels and a combined heat-and-power plant with the homes and businesses.

Monday's announcement provides the first details of Cisco's partnership with Yellostrom, one of several utilities the networking giant has said it's working with in its broad-ranging move into smart grid technologies and services (see IBM, Cisco Look to Tie Up Smart Grid Partners and Cisco Wants to be Everywhere in Smart Grid).

Cisco is also working on a million-smart-meter project with Florida Power & Light, and has said it will assist Duke Energy on unspecified smart grid projects (see A Million Smart Meters for Miami and Duke Energy Enlists Cisco in Smart Grid Efforts).

Cisco didn't immediately respond to questions about the specific functions it would be providing for Yellostrom's pilot. For example, it didn't state whether or not the home energy management system involved might be the first iteration of a "home energy manager" Cisco has promised to deliver to the market, or whether Yellostrom's system may be built by another vendor. 

Yellostrom has been linking its own smart meters via customers' existing broadband Internet connections, which could provide a richer set of functionality for Cisco's networking expertise to play in. Going through existing broadband connections is a relatively unusual route for linking utilities to cusotmers, compared to most utilities' choice to use their own wireless or powerline networks or public cellular networks (see Utilities Mull Price Points, Policies for Home Energy Management and A Broadband Smart Grid?)

Cisco is working with Pacific Gas & Electric to provide energy management capabilities to about 75,000 small business customers, which fits into Cisco's promise to develop a "business energy manager" platform. IBM is another partner on the PG&E project, which is seeking $42.5 million in stimulus grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (see PG&E Asks Cisco to Help Make 75K Businesses Energy Wise).

Linking businesses could be a closer fit to Cisco's EnergyWise platform, which seeks to connect and control computers, phones, networking equipment and office lighting and HVAC systems through a single interface (see Cisco Rolls Out Building Management 'Mediator').

Cisco is involved with IBM on another, 500-home energy management project in Amsterdam. There, Cisco is providing Dutch utility Nuon with a home energy management network linked through smart meters, while IBM is developing the applications for the energy management system and also storing and managing the data (see Green Light post).

This isn't Yellostrom's first IT partnership to help it manage its customers' energy use, by the way. The utility has also used Microsoft technology in its smart meters, and is also working with Google's PowerMeter home energy management platform  (see Green Light post).


Interact with smart grid industry visionaries from North American utilities, innovative hardware and software vendors and leading industry consortiums at The Networked Grid on November 4 in San Francisco.