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Outside of Birmingham, Ala., a new 62-house “smart neighborhood,” Reynolds Landing, features energy-efficient homes that are connected to its own microgrid. The system is capable of supplying all the neighborhood’s power needs, but is also connected to the larger Alabama Power grid in case of emergencies. According to Green Building Advisor’s Scott Gibson, it is the largest community in the Southeast to run on its own power and sets a standard for Alabama’s energy future.

There’s more to it than energy independence. The houses are equipped with the latest internet-of-things (IoT) technology that will give homeowners unusual control over how their houses operate, and allow Alabama Power to control electricity going to water heaters and heating and cooling equipment.

The utility sponsors of the project see long-term benefits to understanding how homeowners will use electricity in the years ahead as prices for renewable energy fall, codes tighten, and high-performance houses get a bigger slice of the housing market.

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