Smart Home project to improve home energy use

East River system operator Brad Arnoldus monitors utility systems at the operations center in the Madison headquarters. East River, NRECA, and Dakota State University have formed a new research partnership to study energy management.

A one-year project beginning fall 2019 at Madison Cyber Laboratories in Madison will research energy management with internet-connected devices in a simulated smart home.

According to a news release from Media Relations at DSU, a new research partnership will investigate solutions so utilities can help consumers optimize energy usage in the next generation of the rural home.

East River Electric Power Cooperative and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) are creating a mock “smart home” to research energy usage with internet-connected devices. While current smart home technologies can help manage electricity use and benefit consumers, a gap exists between the capabilities of those technologies and the needs of utilities to connect to those technologies. Dakota State University faculty and student researchers will study these devices to determine their energy management capabilities and look for ways to better manage and optimize energy usage in the home, possibly through new product development such as an in-home hub.

The results of this research would benefit consumers and the utility alike, by helping to reduce wholesale power costs and save consumers money.

East River Electric is a wholesale power supply cooperative headquartered in Madison which serves 24 distribution cooperatives and one municipal electric system across eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota. NRECA is a national association of over 900 electric cooperatives and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

East River is working with local companies including Karl’s TV and Appliance to build the space in the Madison Cyber Labs on the DSU campus. It will resemble a home kitchen, with “smart” lighting, window shades, speakers, kitchen appliances and a Rheem® Marathon® water heater. Much of the work will be done digitally through simulations.

This is the first of several cooperative partnerships that are in the development stages at Dakota State. Through Madison Cyber Labs research divisions, companies will engage in a variety of cyber security research initiatives with faculty and student researchers. These projects will benefit the researchers, the companies, and ultimately the general public.

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