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UNM, PNM partner: Students to help with energy use

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apnmsolarUniversity of New Mexico graduate students and PNM have announced a pilot project designed to help businesses optimize their energy use and save money along the way.

The students are directing a program dubbed the CERES initiative, for Cloud-based Energy Resource Scheduling. CERES is funded by a $250,000 PNM grant to the UNM Foundation.

The grant will enable the students to set up and monitor the Distributed Energy Resource — Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) equipment in several New Mexico businesses. The model was developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, and is designed to optimize energy management at businesses that generate their own power while connected to the public utility grid. Using solar panels, fossil fuel plants or other resources to produce power for individual homes or businesses while connected to the grid is referred to as “distributed generation.”

“This project will not only take us into the future of renewable energy sources, but it has built a solid foundation for the partnership between UNM and PNM,” said UNM President Bob Frank. “We strive to create connections to people and institutions with ideas, talent and knowledge, and we have found that connection with PNM.”

The UNM research team and PNM worked together to recruit businesses that use power at different times of the day and in different ways to ensure collection of enough data. The research team estimates participating businesses will save between 10 percent and 20 percent on utility costs, based on a trial project involving the UNM Mechanical Engineering Building.

The project will end next fall semester.

The CERES program is a cloud-based service linked to facilities using distributed energy resources. It schedules the operation of the resources to minimize costs and emissions and optimize the benefits of heating and cooling.

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