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In response to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) mandate on a Home Area Network (HAN) Implementation Plan, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), a major Californian utility, has submitted its implementation plan in early December 2011 for review. The pilot deployment of 500 customers will use software from Silver Spring Networks (SSN) and home energy dashboards from Control4. PG&E’s plan will be rolled out in three phases - Initial Rollout Phase, Early Adopter Phase and Mass Market Phase.

The first “Initial Rollout Phase” will use 500 HAN devices provided to 500 volunteer and employee customers starting on March 1, 2012. If this first phase gains sufficient customer and vendor support through assessment of the customer experience and third-party market developments, PG&E will roll out its second stage, “Early Adopters Phase” in early 2013. This opens up potential participation to up to 5,000 customers who can purchase and register their own HAN devices from a multitude of third party vendors. Finally, if the Early Adopters Phase is successful and the third-party HAN device market has developed sufficiently to support broader deployment, PG&E will seek to open up its HAN platform to all third-party HAN devices that meet PG&E’s certification and registration standards beginning in 2014 (Mass Market Phase).

Although SSN and Control4 have been selected as partnering vendors for the initial phase, the mandate has also indicated that PG&E and its counterparts have to open their HAN platforms to all third-party HAN devices that meet the utilities’ certification and registration standards. As most devices in the market are still only SEP 1.0 compliant, the initial platform will be running on SEP 1.0 until later versions of SEP 1.1 and the eventual ratification of SEP 2.0 make it possible to run all platforms and devices at SEP 2.0. However, there is still uncertainty about how the standards and the market will evolve in the longer term, especially with regards to moving SEP 2.0 into an independent organization. In addition, more finalized versions of the SEP 2.0 specifications (0.9 and 1.0 versions) require successful interoperability testing among HAN devices from multiple vendors, which creates uncertainty around the timeframe for the finalized specification.

For additional information on the eco-system of WSN and Home Automation, please refer to the variety of products in our HAS Research Service and WSN Research Service.