RCA unveils GRIDIoT energy Optimum Load Shaping tool

Oct. 21, 2021
According to the founder of Robert Cruickshank Associates, the tool not only offers cable operators a way to predict and manage energy costs and usage but provides a platform to launch energy capacity planning as a managed service.

Robert Cruickshank Associates (RCA) now offers GRIDIoT, an online, standards-based Optimum Load Shaping (OLS) tool. According to Cruickshank, the tool not only offers cable operators a way to predict and manage energy costs and usage but provides a platform to launch energy capacity planning as a managed service.

Energy availability and pricing varies significantly from grid to grid, hour to hour, and supplier to supplier, according to Cruickshank. GRIDIoT leverages a microgrid database of 27,000 locations that enables cable operator energy management systems – as well as individual smart devices in the future – to balance energy load with pricing and availability through the use of OLS signals. The signals combine forecasts of electric load, renewable energy sources, wholesale prices, grid congestion, and other factors to provide a current picture of power status in each location the GRIDIoT database covers. Operators can thus schedule power-intensive activities across their footprints for when pricing is lowest. As such prices are demand-sensitive, scheduling periods of heavy electrical loads to times when they are generally smaller would have the additional benefit of improving power grid efficiency, Cruickshank points out.

The OLS signals that enable such power shifting are compliant with the ANSI SCTE 267 2021 U.S. National Standard. The standard defines an "optimization signal" and a cloud-based client-server platform that distributes OLS signals to energy consumers. In practice, clients are implemented in the controllers of energy consumers such as batteries, water heaters, etc., as well as commercial and industrial users of electricity, such as cable network elements. The OLS server broadcasts signals across large geographic areas, and any OLS client can query the OLS server to obtain a hyper-local load shape. GRIDIoT presents the results in graphic form as illustrated above.

RCA invented OLS and helped create the SCTE 267 and 271 power monitoring and management standards. With GRIDIoT now available, Cruickshank says the use of OLS can reduce cable network opex by up to 20%. The tool also can serve as the foundation of a “managed energy as a service” offering that leverages cable operators’ experience with bandwidth capacity planning. He suggests that energy providers themselves might be among the first customers of such an offering, enabling them to schedule and manage electrical vehicle powering stations, for example.

Cruickshank says RCA is making GRIDIoT available for evaluation at present. He adds both subscription and pay-per-use options are under consideration as the tool moves towards commercialization.

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