Top federal energy official visits Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood

Top federal energy official visits Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood
Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, right, gets briefed on the technology in Alabama Power's Smart Home in Reynolds Landing from Southern Company Research and Development's Jim Leverette, left, and Olu Ajala (center). (Michael Sznajderman / Alabama NewsCenter)

A steady rain Friday didn’t dampen the enthusiasm as a top federal energy official learned about the capabilities and benefits of Alabama Power’s first Smart Neighborhood.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette toured one of the homes at Reynolds Landing in Hoover, where Alabama Power partnered with Signature Homes, Southern Company, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and technology vendors to create the Smart Neighborhood. The 62-home community was completed last year, and all the properties quickly sold.

Located at the Ross Bridge community near Birmingham, Reynolds Landing homes feature emerging energy-efficient technologies, materials and appliances. The neighborhood is connected to a nearby community-scale solar energy system with natural gas and battery backup, the first of its kind in the Southeast.

“Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood is paving the way for more energy-efficient, smart homes in America,” Brouillette said. “The homes built in this community are 50 to 60% more efficient than a standard home, and researchers at the Department of Energy have played a large part in developing and deploying these innovative technologies.”

Last week, President Donald Trump announced he is nominating Brouillette to succeed Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is expected to leave the position at the end of the year.

Smart Neighborhood is more than a leading-edge residential community; it is a research and demonstration project, where energy usage and performance data are collected from the distributed energy resources, as well as from the homes’ innovative features. The information is being analyzed to understand how to integrate new technologies into the electric grid and improve reliability while learning how to enhance the way homes are built and function to make people’s lives easier.

The homes at Reynolds Landing provide a glimpse into what residential construction may look like in 20 years. The neighborhood’s intelligent technology communicates with each home’s heating, air conditioning and water-heating systems to determine the best way to provide energy.

Information gained from the advanced HVAC systems, heat pump water heaters and other technologies is helping Alabama Power determine which programs and services can provide new, creative energy solutions for customers.

In addition to Signature Homes, Smart Neighborhood was made possible through partnerships including the Electric Power Research Institute, as well as technology vendors Carrier, Vivint and Rheem, among others.

Learn more about Smart Neighborhood at www.smartneighbor.com.

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