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The Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA), a nonprofit organization focused on energy management initiatives, has announced the formation of its Grid-Interactive Electric Water Heating Interest Group.

Grid-interactive water heating is the emerging consensus term describing high-speed, two-way communication between the electric water heating appliance and the electric utility, balancing authority, independent system operator or aggregation entity, the PLMA explains. When equipped with a grid-interactive control, a large-capacity, electric thermal storage water heater can become a "battery" for storing electric energy and has the ability to follow locational marginal prices, better integrate renewable energy, and provide fast regulation service.

"This new PLMA interest group will provide a focused platform for information sharing and market development efforts in order to move grid-interactive water heating technologies from pilot project to market introduction," says PLMA Chairman Paul Tyno of REGEN Energy. "The topic may not be as sexy as electric vehicles or Web-enabled thermostats, but PLMA sees a critical market need to raise the visibility for this niche opportunity and its potential to deliver energy storage and smart grid optimization."

The PLMA has chosen Gary Connet to lead the new group's formation. Connet is the director of demand-side management and member services for Great River Energy, a cooperative that provides wholesale electricity to 28 member distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The new group's first initiative will be a half-day workshop on Oct. 31 after the 14th PLMA Fall Conference in Atlanta.



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