In a fishing village south of Tampa called Cortez, a new community of small homes will run on solar power to reach a “net zero” energy footprint–using Google Home to help optimize how the power is used. “It’s going to be a grid-interactive, grid-optimized virtual power plant,” says Blake Richetta, senior vice president and head of U.S. operations at Sonnen , which is making batteries that will store solar power for the 148 new homes in the new development, called Hunters Point . The company designed its software to work with Google Home device and interact with its system, which sends extra power into batteries or into the grid at ideal times. [Image: Pearl Homes] During the day, for example, when homeowners are at work, Google’s Nest thermostat can start “pre-cooling” houses early. That means that solar power from the roof can be used directly. In the evening–the peak time for the electric grid–the system can gradually raise the temperature. The house will stay comfortable since it’s already cool. But the demand on the grid will be lower at a critical time when operators otherwise might have needed to rely on more fossil fuels. Other Google devices could work […]

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