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Powering Forward: How the Smart Grid Will Support CEMS

By Cheryl Kaften August 02, 2011

The development of the smart grid will enable energy control systems for the single and multi-tenant markets —generically called Customer Energy Management Systems (CEMS)—to take off, to the benefit of both power users and providers, according to a new white paper from the Energy Information Standards Alliance (EIS Alliance).  

The Santa Clara-based EIS Alliance is a consortium of companies involved with products and services that support customer energy management.

On the energy user side, the Alliance predicts, building managers and homeowners will enjoy more flexibility and greater ability to contain costs. The Customer Energy Management System will take in and process more information sent from the electrical grid, including:

  • Real-time and predicted pricing,
  • generation capacity,
  • grid reliability events, and
  • demand response requests.

Specifically, the CEMS will receive energy information, such as real-time pricing from local utility providers, and take steps to effectively manage heating and cooling. It also will monitor on-site generation and energy storage capabilities, making control and scheduling decisions in an ever-expanding ecosystem of information.

On the energy provider side, the CEMS will become a tool for enhancing grid stability and efficiency. Without the smart grid to enable direct communications from the energy service or distribution system provider, “a building is simply a static load,” according to the white paper. The smart grid will allow the sharing of energy information across the electrical grid among many stakeholders. This web of energy information interfaced to CEMS will facilitate countless new applications and methods for reducing and balancing energy usage and load, systemwide.

Another compelling feature of the smart grid is that it will give energy service providers a direct, real-time channel to customers by which to communicate alerts, alarms, energy information, new services, or advertising.

“Customer Energy Management Systems offer proven technology that is also the lowest-cost, most flexible, and most secure approach to interacting with the smart grid,” according to EIS Alliance Executive Director David Bunzel. “Combining CEMS with a smarter electrical grid will unlock a new generation of savings that could easily exceed US$1 trillion by 2020.”

CEMS serve as the central hub to manage energy use, optimized for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. There are a number of global companies that manufacture advanced CEMS technology and tens-of-thousands of such systems already deployed. The EIS Alliance is working to establish energy information specifications and standards that will support and enable the CEMS architecture in smart grid applications. Domains such as electric vehicle charging systems, HVAC systems, generators, storage systems, alternate energy generation, water heaters, and lighting are all on the Alliance roadmap to support seamless interoperability with the smart grid.

“Energy savings of more than 30 percent are common in commercial buildings, and the CEMS is as an essential factor in making it possible,” said to John Ruiz, program director for Sustainable Energy Technology at Johnson Controls. “A smart grid interacting with smart buildings will enable utilities to manage the grid effectively while providing new revenue streams to building owners.”

“Taking advantage of CEMS provides one of the most significant opportunities to reduce power consumption in residential, industrial, and commercial buildings,” said David Kaufman, business development director for Honeywell. “We envision the day when the CEMS becomes an integral part of the smart grid, allowing the customer to make decisions that ultimately will save them energy and costs.”


Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

IoTevolutionworld Contributor

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