Itron manages Fort Collins water heater programme

  • July 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Fort Collins Utilities in Colorado has deployed a grid-interactive water heater programme managed by Washington-based Itron.

Fort Collins Utilities provides electricity, water, wastewater and stormwater services to more than 75,000 users in the city of Fort Collins. The programme enables new distributed energy resource technologies to connect electric resistive and heat-pump water heaters to operate during periods when excess renewable energy is available or to pre-heat water tanks, supporting the utility’s energy savings goals.

Electric hot water heaters are the second highest electricity-consuming appliance for most residential customers, after air conditioners. The ability to pre-heat water prior to peak electric-use periods can reduce a significant amount of enrolled residential customers’ electric costs during peak times – up to 15 to 20% – by shifting it to non-peak times.

Itron is providing full, turnkey support for the grid-interactive water heater programme, including hosting its distributed energy resource management (DERM) offering – IntelliSource Enterprise cloud-based software – along with marketing, call centre, data analytics support and field services. This contributes to the full portfolio of Itron’s DERM already in place at the utility, including connected load control switches, smart thermostats and in-home displays.

Through the programme, Fort Collins Utilities will be equipped to expand its current demand response capabilities of shedding water heating load, storing energy and initiating events to consume excess electricity. With this programme, the utility is demonstrating the use of the existing Itron IntelliSource platform using Open ADR integration and CTA-2045-compliant components to solve modern grid problems.

CTA-2045 is a communication protocol that expands interface options and, with an Open ADR-based demand response system, provides more flexible control and a more predictable resource when needed.

“At Fort Collins Utilities, we are committed to providing highly reliable and affordable electric and water services to our customers,” said Pablo Bauleo, senior energy services engineer. “This programme is another way in which we are taking advantage of Itron’s DERM to improve grid management and energy efficiency.”

He said the programme had demonstrated the efficiency and flexibility of grid interactive water heaters, which would help the utility better manage the grid and equip its customers to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

“The programme targeted low-to-moderate income residents by partnering with Neighbor to Neighbor, a local nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing, making this effort not just about technology, but community and equity,” said Bauleo.

IntelliSource can address peak capacity, load management and non-wires alternative use cases for residential, commercial and industrial markets. It manages over 1.1GW with more than three million installed devices. The offering is extensible beyond load control to optimise the grid for various types of distributed energy resources, such as electric vehicles, rooftop solar and behind-the-meter battery storage.

“We are excited to see the early success of Fort Collins Utilities’ water heater programme,” said Don Reeves, senior vice president at Itron. “With Itron’s distributed energy resource management, Fort Collins Utilities will be better positioned to enable customers to maximise value.”

He said this project involving water heaters was a great example of how Itron was expanding the capabilities of DERM to optimise and control additional end-use devices that enabled grid reliability and stability. To further this vision, Itron is adding IEEE 2030.5 communications to its products, which allow for control of inverters for batteries and solar photovoltaics.

“It’s all a part of how Itron is delivering intelligence that empowers,” said Reeves.

Itron enables utilities and cities to deliver safely, securely and reliably critical infrastructure to communities in more than 100 countries. Its smart networks, software, services, meters and sensors help its customers better manage electricity, gas and water resources.