DoE celebrates Georgia Power’s first ‘Smart Neighbourhood’

Guests are shown around the Atlanta Smart Neighbourhood's homes. Image: Department of Energy / BTO.

The US state of Georgia’s fledgling energy storage market took another step forward with the ceremonial switch on of Georgia Power’s ‘Smart Neighbourhood’ in Atlanta.

US Department of Energy (DoE) acting deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency Alexander Fitzsimmons was among attendees as 46 smart townhomes were unveiled with a ribbon-cutting event.

Each home in the new community ‘Altus at The Quarter’ has solar panels, batteries and energy efficiency components such as heat pump water heaters (HPWH). All connected to a neighbourhood microgrid, these resources will be managed and optimised using what the DoE called a “novel, grid-interactive control system”, developed by the department’s largest science and energy lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supported by the national Buildings Technology Office.

Homes will buy their electricity from Georgia Power, supplemented by their individual rooftop solar plants and battery energy storage onsite. The Smart Home technology in each house was developed by PulteGroup, the homebuilding company which partnered with the utility on the project. Thermostats, security systems, appliances and more can be controlled via the Pulte controls suite and through phone app and voice activation. Pulte said that the energy optimisation platform in use will “intelligently” schedule the use of appliances in coordination with the solar and battery which can lower energy costs while maintaining home comfort. In early 2018, reported as the Smart Neighbourhood homes first went on sale that PulteGroup had made a lot of its learnings in developing the solution from working on a prototype net zero energy home project in California. 

The project follows the 2018 launch of a similar Smart Neighbourhood in Alabama, slightly larger with 62 homes. A release from the national Building Technologies Office, which participated in both projects, explains that those homes, with a Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) of between 40 and 50, are considered 50% to 60% more energy efficient than standard homes. The DoE said that both the Alabama homes at Reynolds Landing, Hoover, Alabama, and Altus in the Georgia Power Smart Neighbourhood will comprise a “living laboratory”.

A little earlier this year, installer Creative Solar USA created a community ‘bulk buy’ solar programme which made a couple of dozen residential energy storage system deployments in Greater Atlanta and Carrol County, Georgia. Meanwhile Georgia Power, which is a subsidiary of Southern Company, recently submitted a proposal for it to own and operate 80MW of battery energy storage in its service territory which was approved by the state Public Service Commission in July.

Earlier marketing for the homes from builder and solutions provider PulteGroup. Image: Pulte Group.

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