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18/05/2010 By http://www.marketwatch.com ( Source: http://www.marketwatch.com )

GE First to Use ZigBee(R) Protocols for Smart Appliances

GE Appliances & Lighting announced today that it is the world's first appliance manufacturer to achieve ZigBee(R) Smart Energy certification for its "smart" or smart grid-enabled appliances. This industry first will enable GE's smart grid-enabled appliances to communicate wirelessly with utility companies via smart meters to help consumers better manage their electricity usage and utilities better manage overall power consumption during peak usage times, thus helping reduce the need for more power generation and helping consumers save money in areas where utilities have implemented Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing.

"The ZigBee Smart Energy Profile is emerging to be an important protocol for smart grid communication. This is a huge step in our strategy of supporting multiple protocols, as the smart grid gets rolled out, helping both consumers and utilities manage energy consumption more effectively, improving grid reliability and reducing consumer costs," said Kevin Nolan, Vice President Technology for GE Appliances & Lighting. "With this technology, both consumers and the utilities will have more information and be able to make better decisions than ever about energy usage."

ZigBee is a wireless communication protocol that helps smart devices in a home, such as appliances and thermostats, communicate with the smart grid through the smart meter. The ZigBee Smart Energy Profile is an open standard for communicating pricing and demand information into the home developed by the nonprofit ZigBee Alliance, an association of utilities, manufacturers and other organizations. The information helps consumers make more educated decisions about their energy consumption and helps the utility better monitor the demand on the energy grid.

Certification testing of the GE technology was conducted by National Technical Services (NTS), an independent organization authorized by the ZigBee Alliance.

About smart grid-enabled or demand-response appliances:

"We want to provide assurance that when consumers purchase GE smart grid-enabled appliances, they will 'future-proof' their investment and homes, and the appliances will have the ability to communicate with the Smart Grid," said Nolan.

GE's suite of smart appliances includes washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, and the GeoSpring(TM) Hybrid Water Heater, of which the GeoSpring is the first commercially available smart appliance that is on the market now. Other smart grid-enabled appliances in the suite will be available starting later in 2010. The appliances will be able to communicate wirelessly with the utilities' AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) "smart meter" systems. This will enable the utility to communicate pricing and grid status to the smart appliances, and will also enable the utilities to receive confirmation and usage data in return.

For example, a utility can signal appliances during periods of critical peak energy usage or highest prices. The signal will shift the appliances' operating software into demand-response mode, temporarily reducing power consumption, decreasing the risk of power disruption, and saving the consumer money. Utilities can also signal the appliances when pricing is at its lowest, allowing consumers to take advantage of these low-price periods to perform energy-intensive tasks at the lowest rates and at times of least electricity demand.

About GE Appliances & Lighting

GE Appliances & Lighting spans the globe as an industry leader in major appliances, lighting, systems and services for commercial, industrial and residential use. Technology innovation and the company's ecomagination(SM) initiative enable GE Appliances & Lighting to aggressively bring to market products and solutions that help customers meet pressing environmental challenges. General Electric /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 17.18, -0.05, -0.29%) , imagination at work, sells products under the Monogram(R), Profile(TM), GE(R), Hotpoint(R), Reveal(R) and Energy Smart(R) consumer brands, and Tetra(R), Vio(TM) and Immersion(R) commercial brands. For more information, consumers may visit www.ge.com.

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