- Chris Kotting and Ken Sinclair
Chris Kotting, Executive Director,
Alliance is a 501(c) not for profit corporation dedicated to the
development of open standards and architectures supporting customer
owned, operated and controlled equipment in a Smart Grid
environment. Prior to being named the Executive Director of the
EIS Alliance, Chris Kotting worked in various infrastructure and policy
areas in Electricity, Gas and Telecommunications sectors with the
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. In addition to his work with
the EIS Alliance, Chris is Co-Founder and Senior Consultant with
An Introduction to the EIS Alliance.
The EIS Alliance was formed to develop, and promote the
development of, standards for information about energy usage on the
customer side of the meter.
Sinclair: What is the EIS Alliance all about?
Kotting: The EIS Alliance was formed to develop, and promote the
development of, standards for information about energy usage on the
customer side of the meter. I realize that's a bit of a mouthful,
so let me break it down a bit.
The Alliance is pulling together experts from different companies and
disciplines to ensure that the standards developed as part of Smart
Grid meet the energy management needs of the end use customer, whether
that customer is a residential consumer, a commercial building or a
large industrial plant. Specifically, the Alliance has thus far
published Use Case documents that have been included in the development
of a number of smart grid standards and processes by the
North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) and ASHRAE, among
The goal is to provide end-users of energy with the information and
technologies they need to manage their energy usage in an efficient and
economical way. In addition to working on the customer side of
the meter, the EIS Alliance is working with the larger Smart Grid
development effort, to provide for an efficient and effective interface
between customer owned and controlled equipment (what we call Customer
Energy Management Systems or CEMS) and Utility Smart Grid
Sinclair: But there are already energy management systems in
buildings. This is “Automated Buildings” magazine, after
all. So what makes the EIS Alliance's approach any different?
Kotting: Sure, there are energy management systems as part of
both industrial process control systems and building management systems
in large commercial buildings. Three things make the EIS Alliance
First, the development of information standards. For the most
part, existing systems are a product of either custom integration of
hardware from different (and not always compatible) vendors, or
single-source systems. With the development of standardized ways
of expressing energy usage and requirements, equipment is being
developed that will interoperate smoothly with equipment from multiple
vendors, as well as communicating with information provided by
equipment and systems outside of the customer environment. This
will lower the cost of designing and manufacturing energy management
systems and hardware, as well as the cost of implementing them.
Second, the ability of CEMS to integrate information from beyond the
customer meter, whether it's usage information provided by the Utility,
weather information from forecasters, or market information. The
ability to access information from beyond the meter to manage customer
systems and equipment can go beyond optimizing energy usage, to being
able to provide services to the Utility, like frequency regulation and
VAR support, for which the customer (or as it sometimes said in Smart
Grid discussions, the “prosumer”) gets paid.
Third, the cost of existing energy management systems makes them
practical only for large facilities. The EIS Alliance standards
focus on the customer side of the meter, but across all sizes and kinds
of customer. This means that the standards, as well as the cost
reductions, will open up new markets for energy management systems in
smaller commercial and residential sectors. Currently, energy
management systems are common in industrial and large commercial
facilities, but rare to nonexistent in the small commercial and
Sinclair: Is this bad news for the folks who do building management systems integration?
Kotting: No, it's good news. Saying it is “bad news” is like
saying that the proliferation of standards-based PC hardware in the
80's was bad news for software developers. It wasn't bad news,
but it did mean a transition from “big iron” mainframes, remote
terminals and custom software to a very different, and far larger,
market. I think that the coming of Smart Grid and information
standards for CEMS will lead to a similar expansion of the market for
building management systems.
Sinclair: So, in this larger market, who controls the equipment, the Utility?
Kotting: No way. The customer controls their equipment, but the
customer may well make different decisions about what equipment to use,
when and how, given that there will be a lot more information about how
to manage costs.
Industrial customers have to be able to manage their processes without
concern that a decision made by some other entity will alter or stop
Commercial customers are required by contract to maintain certain
environments within the building envelope. Here again, the
equipment that maintains those environments has to be able to function
without outside interference, once the decisions about how to operate
have been made.
Residential customers similarly want to maintain control of their own living space, and also want to protect their privacy.
Actually, the Utility taking control of customer equipment in a Smart
Grid environment is a nightmare scenario for the Utility, even though
some of them don't realize it yet. Managing, communicating, and
protecting all that information is an immense, complicated and costly
challenge to meet, and it can be avoided by leaving control of customer
equipment in the customers' hands. Provide the customer with
better information, and let the customer (or the customer's systems)
make intelligent decisions.
Sinclair: What about electric vehicles, how do they fit into a CEMS?
Kotting: Quite nicely, actually. The EIS Alliance
membership includes Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE)
manufacturers, and in September of this year we published a series of
Use Cases describing how an electric vehicle would interact with a
CEMS. The Use Cases are currently being used by a number of EV
standards efforts, and are undergoing further development within the
In essence, an electric vehicle is a bit like a “CEMS within a CEMS” in
that it is a load that needs energy, but it can also provide services
to the CEMS.
Sinclair: So what's next for the EIS Alliance?
Kotting: We are continuing to add to the library of Use Cases, adding
customer owned generation, energy storage, appliances and equipment,
consumer electronics, and a host of others. We are also working
on a certification suite, so that interoperable devices can be readily
identified, regardless of manufacturer or function in the customer
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