Interview with Universal Devices

GUEST Q&A Blog with Michel Kohanim, CEO of Universal Devices
-Rolf Bienert, Managing and Technical Director, OpenADR Alliance

The OpenADR 2.0 Demand Response Program Guide was designed to further the interoperability of products certified as OpenADR compliant. The certification program is a simple add-on to the current OpenADR 2.0b Profile Certification that is being required by utilities worldwide. To date a number of utilities and manufacturers support the DR Program Guide and certification program.

I had a chance to talk with the CEO of Universal Devices, Michel Kohanim to get his thoughts on the importance of certification for the industry and specifically the OpenADR program testing and certification.

Universal Devices was first to market with an OpenADR-certified Energy Management and Building Automation product that incorporates several DR program templates for the utility’s use. Universal Devices believes OpenADR will play an increasingly important role in their portfolio.

RB: How does product certification help your company to address new use cases and markets?

MK: Not only certification puts a boundary around common concepts, such as protocol, error handling, security, registration and authentication, commissioning, but also it enables us to use common structures for machine-2-machine communications. Therefore, without product certification, every solution is customized and thus very costly to maintain.

RB: What is missing in the industry to get closer to “off the shelf” interoperability?

MK: Depends on what interoperability means. If it means end to end and automated commissioning of VENs with the VTN, then we only need the Enrollment service.

If it means that we can address more than 90% of existing use cases (excluding enrollment), then – and at the moment, we don’t need anything else. The reason is that we can use price and mode signals for pretty much anything (perhaps Transactive Energyin the future).

If it means that someone at the utility needs to know what type of devices the customer has and how to control each and every one, then we can never have interoperability since it’s been tried very many times and it has never succeeded

From my perspective, refining reports (for M&V) and automating enrollment makes the solution complete for the foreseeable future.

RB: Why did you choose to get the Program Guide testing and certification?

MK: To validate that OpenADR can indeed meet our existing requirements with the utilities.

RB: What is your message to utilities to generate more vendor interest?

MK:.From a technical perspective, it defies logic that the CA utilities still use Flex Alert (use your finger) for PSPS or catastrophic events. This can be easily implemented using OpenADR. So, they should start with a VTN that provides TOU or dynamic prices and Modes (especially for catastrophic events) to any interested party. This way, changes to the TOU prices can be easily implemented by automated systems-

RB: What are the benefits OpenADR brings to developing solutions?

MK: The certification allows the utilities to have a baseline for supported products and, without which, all solutions are custom and costly to develop and maintain.

To learn more about Universal Devices please visit. To download the OpenADR Program Guide click here.  For more information on the OpenADR Alliance please visit.
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