How Southern Company’s Smart Neighborhoods® Are Transforming the Smart Home Industry

May 21, 2019

Energy efficiency starts in the home. In Alabama and Georgia, the future looks brighter than ever, thanks to Smart Neighborhood initiatives that two of Southern Company’s subsidiaries, Alabama Power and Georgia Power, have launched. These smart homes provide customers with state-of-the-art home construction, distributed energy resources and smart home appliances and technologies.

The Smart Neighborhoods – located in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover and Atlanta’s upper Westside – were built as part of Southern Company’s research initiative to determine what homes and smart home automation will look like in 2040. The homes in these communities are among the most energy-efficient in the country, with improved reliability, increased use of distributed energy resources and decreased operating costs.

Each home is “built with future energy codes and standards in mind,” said Latanza Adjei, Georgia Power VP of sales and marketing, adding that they are equipped with “all of the things it takes to make sure that these homes use less energy than most of the homes around.”

Those items include either a community-scale microgrid or rooftop solar panels and battery energy storage, as well as a super-tight building envelope, comprehensive duct-sealing, triple-pane windows, a radiant barrier roof decking, smart thermostats, connected and controllable heat pump water heaters, air-source heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers. The homes’ automation and security packages include smart door locks, lights and voice control.

And that’s just on the inside. At Reynolds Landing, the Alabama Power Smart Neighborhood has a community-scale microgrid. Designed, engineered and deployed by PowerSecure, it’s the first-of-its-kind in the Southeast and helps ensure resiliency, which means that even when the traditional grid is offline, the homes can be powered.

The features “seamlessly enhance the experience of our customers in their everyday lives,” said Todd Rath, Alabama Power marketing services director.

“Having the ability to monitor your energy usage at your fingertips definitely makes a huge difference,” said Hannah Kennedy, a resident of Reynolds Landing.

Jim Leverette, Southern Company research and development engineer, said “the initiative at its heart is a research project to understand the future of energy.”

“By incorporating high-performance homes, smart technology, rooftop solar and microgrids, we are able to understand how the interactions of all these things may change the way we serve our customers in the future,” he said.