The Tipping Point Is Now

What does security have to do with energy? To the average consumer, it may not mean much and the two might rather seem to be separate components. Let’s backtrack. We could all remember the days as children, when power consumption and the term “energy savings” meant absolutely nothing—when we were more interested in spending the days of summer outdoors and not thinking twice about whether we left the television set on in the house. And I’m sure we can all recall getting yelled at for leaving a light on in a room that wasn’t being occupied at the time. Fast forward to today and you’ve got busy homeowners on the go that have the option of managing all that with home automation technologies directly from a PDA or cell phone. With the advent of remote home security and monitoring being coupled together, homeowners can now turn off a light that was left on or manage other settings inside their home, such as HVAC, even when they’re not there.

The technology showcase highlighted a number of new energy efficient energy solutions onsite, including:
Schneider’s Cassia Energy Management System (EMS); and electric vehicle and residential charging solutions.


Even smart meters from ComEd now allow consumers to manage their daily electricity usage from their meter, helping them monitor their costs.

Such “smart grid” technologies are on the rise and it is evident that consumers want control. At a time when we’re seeing the younger generation getting online more, with K-12 incorporating the computer into the regular school day, and as online social activity continues to grow, energy management is a challenge and concern not only for the homeowner or average consumer, but for data centers, utilities and virtually a number of major vertical markets such as education and cities and municipalities.

The opportunity here is for systems integrators and for those leading organizations and multinational companies to lead the way in bringing these technologies together to meet growing customer needs around energy management.

“I think there is some tipping point that we’re all waiting for here with energy,” explained Paul Hamilton, senior vice president of Energy Efficiency Programs for Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill., at the EcoStruxure In Action event Schneider held last week in Chicago. ”Where the tipping point is, is as we start to merge IT and energy infrastructure, there’s a whole lot of functionality we don’t have today that we could have in the future. Now, you’re seeing the convergence of groups of people that never worked together before—Google, IBM, Cisco. The smart grid is an enabling mechanism to drive return on investment for homeowners. The question right now is, do we accelerate the tipping point through policy and regulation? Or do we accelerate it through our businesses?”

Panelists discussed efficient energy management strategies at the Schneider Electric Ecostruxure In Action event, Chicago. From left to right: Paul Hamilton, senior vice president, Energy Efficiency Programs, Schneider Electric; Ken Bauwens, owner, Jamerson & Bauwens; Jeff Drees, president, Schneider Electric, U.S.; Mike Blake, president, Palladium Technologies; and John Schinter, executive director of Energy, AT&T.

The power of ‘green’
Schneider Electric, who recently went through some major organizational changes, including the creation of a new U.S. Energy business and an expanded U.S. Energy Solutions business and U.S. Projects & Services business serving all markets, brought editors and key leaders focused on effective energy management strategies together to discuss all things power and energy related. Educational sessions focused on solutions for IT and data centers, buildings and power solutions while a technology showcase allowed attendees the chance to learn about some innovative new solutions addressing energy consumption issues, further promoting the discussion of growing smart grids.

“Major blackouts that cover a lot of geography is where we feel the pain—that is where you will see the policy change that Paul is talking about,” explained Jeff Drees, president, Schneider Electric, U.S. “Over time, you’re going to see a decrease of energy consumption as a result of these smart grids and energy efficient technologies.”

“The technologies to promote smart grids are already being adopted,” added John Schinter, executive director of Energy for AT&T, Dallas. “Broadband, wireless technology, remote monitoring—these are all things we’re already seeing. Intelligent controls and devices and wireless technologies are substantially decreasing energy costs. Controls are the way of the future and we have to continue to embrace that,” he continued.

A sneak peak
Want to see what’s coming down the technology pipeline in smart grid technology from Schneider? Here’s a look at some of the innovative solutions and concepts debuted at the event.

The Cassia Energy Management System (EMS), an in-room energy solution for hotels and other multi-unit facilities, uses room automation and energy monitoring software to increase efficiencies in three areas of major consumption – heating, cooling and lighting. In each room, battery-powered thermostats, lighting controls and sensors are deployed and communicate via Zigbee® state-of-the-art wireless technology. Since the components of the in-room system utilize wireless technology, a simple, nonintrusive retrofit of equipment can be easily accomplished with quick installation turnaround times.

MachineStruxure™ architecture, a comprehensive automation solution for industrial machines, leverages the benefits of four machine control platforms all housed under the SoMachine™ software suite, designed to program all machines. With MachineStruxure, embedded intelligence is available within four platforms – logic controllers, HMI controllers, drive controllers, and motion controllers, allowing the optimization of machines for energy efficiency.

Also included within the MachineStruxure platform are:
• the Altivar® IMC, an integrated controller card for Altivar 61 & 71 variable-speed drives;
• the Magelis® XBT GC HMI Controller;
• the Modicon® LMC058, an intelligent controller integrating motion and logic in one product; and
• the Modicon® M238 and M258 programmable logic controllers (PLCs) for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).