EPRI, Eaton to demo power management circuit breaker

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The Electric Power Research Institute will work with power management company Eaton on a demonstration project testing a new Eaton circuit breaker throughout the United States, the partners announced Wednesday.

Eaton’s energy management circuit breaker will be installed in about 500 homes across the country. EPRI will evaluate and analyze the field test data as part of a collaborative research and development project with 12 utilities. Those include American Electric Power, CenterPoint Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Duke Energy, Exelon subsidiaries ComEd and Pepco, Nebraska Public Power District, Seattle City Light, Southern Co., and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc.

“The EMCB technology puts some of the benefits of a smart, integrated grid in the hands of homeowners and could transform the way consumers interact with electricity,” said Arshad Mansoor, EPRI senior vice president for research and development, in a statement. “This field test also provides a real-time, in-home assessment of how the EMCB can improve utility service and optimize the grid by supporting demand response, distributed energy resources, solar installation monitoring, energy storage and energy management.”

The device combines Eaton’s miniature circuit breaker technology with secure Wi-Fi communications, utility-grade metering and load control to help support grid optimization. The Eaton circuit breakers also leverage the simple-to-install and maintain Internet of Things connectivity platform from IoT and cloud computing firm Electric Imp.

Eaton collaborated with Electric Imp, co-founded by Hugo Fiennes, to ensure the EMCBs and their managed services are secure, flexible, reliable, and scalable.

“Eaton engineers reimagined fundamental power management technology, including the circuit breaker, to help utilities and consumers more actively and intelligently manage power,” said Joanne Edwards, senior vice president and general manager, residential and wiring devices division at Eaton. “The field test will help us accelerate the development of the energy management circuit breaker, while also providing data on device lifecycle management, over-the-air firmware updates, and communication architectures that can be applied across our solutions for residential and utility customers.”

EPRI brings together scientists, engineers and utilities for research into generation and delivery of power on the grid. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Lenox, Massachusetts.

Eaton is a global company focused on metering, power distribution and circuit technology. It has 95,000 employees worldwide and sells products in about 175 countries.

Electric Imp, founded in 2011, is located in Los Altos, California and Cambridge, UK. The company is funded by Foxconn Technology Group, PTI Ventures, Rampart Capital and Redpoint Ventures.

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