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Turning Residential Electric Heaters into a Grid Asset

October 28, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

Turning Residential Electric Heaters into a Grid Asset

A residential transactive energy application in Pennsylvania

What if your heating system were not just a passive residential electric load but was actively providing grid services as it was heating your home? That’s exactly what’s happening with specially controlled residential electric thermal storage (ETS) heaters throughout Pennsylvania.

ETS heaters convert electricity to thermal energy, which is stored in the form of hot ceramic bricks – almost like a “heat battery.” A third party communicates with these heaters via the Internet to turn them on and off remotely, “charging” them at times that make sense given the wholesale energy prices and weather forecast. This type of energy load, one  that is responsive to economic or other signals, is termed “transactive energy.” (Here’s a good read, Transactive Energy: The Next Big Deal for the Smart Grid?”)

Speaking at our October meeting will be Jessica Smith and Ron Mixell of VCharge, a Rhode Island-based startup that currently controls thousands of residential ETS heaters in Pennsylvania, totaling 3MW of controllable load.  

The talk will cover the basics of how electric thermal storage heaters work and explain how residential ETS heaters can be aggregated for use as a grid asset. The presentation will describe VCharge’s experiences with ETS heaters in Pennsylvania specifically, including regulatory and technical hurdles.

Ron Mixell is Director of PA Operations for VCharge and Jessica Smith is Marketing Content Manager.

Hope you can join us for what promises to be a discussion of an important emerging technology.  This will also be our last meeting of 2014, hard to believe!

After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. And we’re interested in your ideas for MAREA speakers, activities and services in 2015. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!

For questions, contact Vera Cole, <a>[masked]</a> or [masked].

Free DVD with MAREA membership  While supplies last, all new and renewing MAREA members will receive a free copy of “Saving Sunshine, Keeping the Lights on with Batteries and Solar Power,” the 30-minute DVD produced by MAREA this year with funding from the Berks Community Foundation and distributed by Bullfrog Films. It’s terrific film, offering an interesting and easily understood explanation of the electricity grid and distribution generation, especially the role of batteries with solar. MAREA is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations and memberships are how we keep the lights on. You can join at the meeting or anytime online. Thanks for your help. 


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)