OpenADR Alliance Meets at Berkeley Lab to Advance OpenADR as Smart Grid Standard

January 28, 2011

The OpenADR Alliance, a nonprofit corporation created to foster the development, adoption and compliance of a Smart Grid standard known as Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) held its first members' meeting at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), January 20-21.

Automated demand response is a set of pre-programmed steps in a building or other facility, which automatically trigger to reduce peak power use when the electricity grid is in danger of falling out of supply-demand balance, or when real-time electricity prices are high. OpenADR is a communications specification that makes it possible for facilities managers to implement automated demand response (Auto-DR) by providing a standard set of Internet signals for describing the state of the grid, and actuating a demand response.

OpenADR was developed by Berkeley Lab researchers and industrial partners through the Demand Response Research Center (DRRC), which is funded by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

In May 2010, following eight years of development, OpenADR became 1 of 16 smart grid standards supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Technology's Smart Grid Interoperability Standards effort. Open standards are supported by market stakeholders because they reduce the cost of these technologies in the marketplace, and lower the cost to utilities and consumers adopting these technological innovations.

The meeting brought together more than 50 people from 32 companies, government agencies, utilities, and research institutions, and was hosted by Berkeley Lab, a founding member of the OpenADR Alliance. Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Honeywell are the other founding members.

Michael Gravely, manager of energy systems research office at the California Energy Commission, delivered the keynote address. He noted that meeting the 33 percent renewable energy target in California by 2020 will require the state to use technologies like OpenADR and energy storage to balance the cyclical nature of solar and wind generation and integrate renewable power on the grid.

"I was very impressed with the level of industry support shown by those attending the first OpenADR Alliance meeting, "said Mary Anne Piette, chair of the OpenADR Alliance, and deputy head of the Building Technologies Department at Berkeley Lab. "Our members made significant progress identifying key goals and priorities for the Alliance, along with the formation of technical and marketing committees."

Members of the Alliance set up technical committees to help move forward OpenADR's pathway to a smart grid standard and toward wider industry adoption. The group began the process of setting up a conformance and testing program so that members will eventually be able to submit products for testing and certification of compliance with OpenADR. "The OpenADR Alliance is an important milestone in bringing the OpenADR compliant products to market place and its wide-scale adoption," said Girish Ghatikar, the interim technical director of the OpenADR Alliance, and program manager at Berkeley Lab.

A newly formed technical committee is facilitating the development and transition to OpenADR 2.0. Feature sets and test cases for the new version of OpenADR will help establish a framework for the testing and certification program.

They also discussed cooperation with various standards-setting organizations now working on establishing standards for the smart grid, to allow technology and system suppliers, energy customers, utilities and their regulators maximize its benefits.

Although the definition of the smart grid varies, most in the field generally agree that a smart electrical grid incorporates sensors, physical control systems and software in the buildings and other end-use facilities connected to the electricity grid, as well as on the grid itself, to maintain the continuous operation of the grid, and prevent or correct problems in real time, as well as reduce peak power use during high-congestion periods, and, over a longer time horizon, help maximize consumers' energy efficiency.

The smart grid allows its managers and users understand its state of health from moment to moment, maximize efficient use of energy, participate effectively in utility load shifting programs (in which the customer can delay energy use to periods when the price is lower in return for price breaks), and minimize energy bills.


Allan Chen