Some Martha's Vineyard households will soon be receiving smart appliances from General Electric as part of a pilot project, GE announced today.
It's part of mission to promote smart grid and renewable energy use on the island that has been spearheaded by The Vineyard Energy Project (VEP), a nonprofit community energy group started in West Tisbury, Mass., and the island's energy co-op, Vineyard Power.
In December 2010, VEP was granted almost $800,000 toward its goal of deploying smart grid technologies on the island, including smart appliances, via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Smart appliances are able to communicate with a smart electric grid to adjust behavior according to peak and off-peak electricity hours. One could set their smart dishwasher, for example, to run only after receiving a signal from the grid that peak is low and there is plenty of electricity available.
GE's appliance participation is not that far-reaching, and should really be considered a pilot project. The company is placing a total of 120 smart appliances and Nucleus electricity management systems in 35 households, with an additional 15 households receiving just the Nucleus system.
But it's part of a larger picture that could allow the vacation island, known for having strong coastal winds, to run completely off wind energy in the winter months when its population shrinks to about 16,000.
"Initial wind power models suggest that Vineyard Power can meet the full winter electric load of Martha's Vineyard with the development of 17 medium-size offshore turbines (2.5 MW)," Vineyard Power said in a statement.
To that end, the co-op is conducting a visual impact survey that includes rating CGI images of what various island shores would look like with such turbines in place. Anyone may view the images on its Web site, though only Vineyard Power members can vote.
But in order for the introduction of offshore wind to be successful, Vineyard Power will have to implement a smart grid and smart grid tools for integrating an intermittent renewable energy like wind. GE and the Department of Energy are working with the energy co-op to help make that happen, according to Vineyard Power.