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Ceiva enables utility role in smart energy, home

Self-provisioning via pre-planning delivers plug/play

Rockville, MD (November 12, 2015) –When Ceiva started, it was focused on the in-home device (IHD), a digital picture frame that could also display data and messages and that it still offers today. But it saw the need for utility facing software when the firm started working with nearby utility Glendale Water & Power under an ARRA-funded project to interact with smart meters, Ceiva VP of Strategic Partnerships Wannie Park told Smart Grid Today – the leading independent, daily, professional news journal of the smart grid industry – recently in an interview. Smart Grid Today publisher Modern Markets Intelligence Inc. is sharing the story here, free of charge.

The Glendale project required the firm's technology to achieve compliance with the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile (SEP), Park said, and that began a series of events that led the firm to focus much more on software that lets a utility interact with myriad devices in the home, even ones that the residents buy and install themselves. "We found there are a lot of pockets of opportunity for us," he added, with utility DR being a key driver.

"Everything we do is residential focused," Park said, calling that "a big void" for many utilities. Ceiva saw the trend in home automation, internet of things (IOT) and the like, and "we always took the angle that we could provide a really good subset of that which is very utility facing, giving the utilities the opportunity to market these things to their customers as a lot of these utilities start becoming more of a value added service provider.

"So we started building solutions for example to help utilities do provisioning. The provisioning process of these devices, because there is a lot of security involved, is very painful. I mean think about it, right? So can a customer go to a Best Buy and buy a thermostat and get it on the network? They cannot.

"Can a customer go out and find an SEP-compliant thermostat themselves? They cannot. And if they were to, how are you going to get that thing to join the meter?"

So Ceiva spent the last four years developing self-provisioning software, "where if a utility knows that one of their customers has bought a device, it actually just auto joins. You don't have to really do anything because all of that information is preloaded."

Ceiva works directly with utilities, providing utility-facing software package called Entryway that lets the firm see and control the specific devices in participating customers' homes. The main goal is DR for peak demand reduction.

Park likened Entryway to an AMI master-control system. The customer-facing system is called Homeview and plays a similar role for the individual user participating in a Ceiva-enabled DR program.

Entryway "runs all kinds of great analytics around the meters and the devices attached to them. So for example, you could do health checks on your meters. You can do health checks on devices attached to the meters."

When a meter goes bad or falls off the network, "we have a lot of systems in place to actually manage that for the utility, so it's a great value in terms of isolating problems." Entryway can do disaggregation, too, so thermostats or load control devices can tell the utility what the load looks like in a specific region, he added.

The system is modular, "so if you're a small muni or a big IOU, there is a package there for you because it is software-as-a-service and it sort of scales as you grow into the software depending on how you use it. We have customers that are very much focused on solar, for example," Park said, and the solar module could be added to the system.

"The same thing with EVs." Utilities are looking at a variety of new technologies using OpenADR, "so we've got an Open-ADR module.

"We are looking to work with some of the bigger consumer facing clouds and integrating it into Entryway," such as the Ecobee cloud for smart thermostats with remote sensors, "appliance clouds from companies like Whirlpool, Nest cloud, maybe even Apple's home kit if that's possible.

"Those are the things that we are looking to bring in so that, from a utility perspective, they don't really care anymore. They don't care if it's a ZigBee device or a Wi-Fi device. They have become agnostic to it."

This story was originally published in full in Smart Grid Today (http://www.smartgridtoday.com/members/Ceiva-enables-utility-role-in-smart-energy-home.cfm?ref=pressrelease) on November 13, 2015, and has been slightly edited for this format. To read the rest of the interview and more articles like this one, sign up for a Free Trial to Smart Grid Today.

ABOUT SMART GRID TODAY

Smart Grid Today, the publication of record for the smart grid industry since 2009, delivers daily, unbiased, comprehensive and original reporting on emerging trends, applications and policies driving the modern utility industry. Our signature format features highly concise and easy-to-understand news copy based on trusted reporting, exclusive interviews, informed analysis and strategic insights that our subscribers rely on to succeed every business day. Modern Markets Intelligence Inc publishes Smart Grid Today.

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