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Seattle City Light Participating in Test of Innovative Circuit Breaker

Photo of an electrical panel with the new circuit breaker installed.

A panel with the new circuit breaker installed.

Seattle City Light is participating in a pilot project led by EPRI and Eaton to test a new circuit breaker that will enable users to better understand and manage their energy usage.

Here’s the announcement from EPRI and Eaton:

EPRI, Eaton Commence Field Test of Innovative Circuit Breaker Technology Seeking to Demonstrate More Intelligent, Responsive Grid and Smarter Homes

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 26) — The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and power management company Eaton today announced a collaborative demonstration fielded by EPRI with utility providers across the United States to test a new Eaton circuit breaker designed to improve utility service reliability and optimize the grid. EPRI will test and evaluate the impact of Eaton’s energy management circuit breaker (EMCB) in the field, and the data from the testing will be provided to the participating utilities. The research results are anticipated to help participants better understand how to manage demand for electricity with the potential for more effective integration of new energy sources onto the grid, while also enabling homeowners to strategically manage their energy usage.

The field test will involve the installation of EMCBs by 12 utilities in approximately 500 homes across the country. EPRI will evaluate and analyze field test data as part of this collaborative research and development project with utilities, including American Electric Power, CenterPoint Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Duke Energy, Exelon subsidiaries ComEd and Pepco, Nebraska Public Power District, Seattle City Light, Southern Company, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.

“The EMCB technology puts some of the benefits of a smart, integrated grid in the hands of homeowners, and could transform the way consumers interact with electricity,” said Arshad Mansoor, EPRI senior vice president for research and development. “This field test also provides a real-time, in-home assessment of how the EMCB can improve utility service and optimize the grid by supporting demand response, distributed energy resources, solar installation monitoring, energy storage, and energy management.”

The EMCB combines circuit breaker technology, which provides circuit protection in the customer’s load center, with Internet connectivity and on-board intelligence. The EMCB makes a home’s circuits “smart” and provides better energy use information for residential energy management and for utility optimization of grid reliability. The devices can be used in new installations or retrofitted into existing home electrical panels without additional hardware.

“Eaton engineers reimagined fundamental power management technology, including the circuit breaker, to help utilities and consumers more actively and intelligently manage power,” said Joanne Edwards, senior vice president and general manager, Residential and Wiring Devices division at Eaton. “The field test will help us accelerate the development of the energy management circuit breaker, while also providing data on device lifecycle management, over-the-air firmware updates, and communication architectures that can be applied across our solutions for residential and utility customers.”

The device combines Eaton’s miniature circuit breaker technology with secure Wi-Fi communications, utility-grade metering, and load control to help support grid optimization. The Eaton circuit breakers also leverage the simple-to-install and maintain Internet of Things connectivity platform from Electric Imp. Eaton collaborated with Electric Imp, co-founded by Hugo Fiennes, to ensure the EMCBs and their managed services are secure, flexible, reliable, and scalable.

For more information, visit

About EPRI
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and the environment. EPRI members represent 90 percent of the electric utility revenue in the United States with international participation in 35 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Lenox, Massachusetts.

About Eaton

Eaton’s electrical business is a global leader with expertise in power distribution and circuit protection; backup power protection; control and automation; lighting and security; structural solutions and wiring devices; solutions for harsh and hazardous environments; and engineering services. Eaton is positioned through its global solutions to answer today’s most critical electrical power management challenges.

Eaton is a power management company with 2015 sales of $20.9 billion. Eaton provides energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton has approximately 95,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries. For more information, visit