Worcester, Mass. program key to company’s grid modernization learnings
Submitted by National Grid
Encouraged by customer satisfaction, positive results, and the opportunity to learn more about how smart grid investments may improve electric service and reliability across the Commonwealth, National Grid is seeking to extend the Smart Energy Solutions (SES) pilot program in Worcester for an additional two years.
Eager to build upon the program’s successes and help the state evaluate the benefits of grid modernization, the company filed a request yesterday with the Department of Public Utilities to continue the most comprehensive smart grid pilot in the Northeast. The program’s 15,000 customers have access to pricing plans designed to help them save on their monthly electric bills and prepare for days when energy usage is highest. Additionally, infrastructure investments including advanced communications and automation enhancements have enabled faster outage identification and faster system restoration, while also being able to test integration of renewable resources and electric vehicle charging stations in the city. Several monitors are installed at solar and wind distributed generation locations within the SES program area to help the company study the impact of distributed generation on the electric system.
“We are excited about the opportunity for program participants to continue benefiting from new pricing plans and in-home technologies that let them take control of their energy use and costs,” said Carlos Nouel, vice president of New Energy Solutions at National Grid. “Our investments in smart grid infrastructure, and what we’re learning from this program, will ultimately help us improve service for all of our customers as we strive to offer them a 21st century experience.”
Launched in January 2015 with the DPU’s approval as a two-year pilot under the 2008 Green Communities Act, SES has sustained a high retention and satisfaction rate, and resulted in peak and average load reduction and measurable customer bill savings. Findings from a mid-program evaluation revealed that in 2015 the SES program achieved a 98 percent retention rate, a 72 percent customer satisfaction rate and total customer savings of $1.25 million on their electric bills. Additionally, the average customer reduced their usage by nearly 4 percent during peak periods of electricity demand.
Now in its second year, the pilot has helped inform the company’s grid modernization filing in Massachusetts. National Grid submitted a plan last summer in response to the DPU’s request for proposals to modernize the grid and enhance customers’ utility experiences. That proposal is pending review by the DPU. The company’s filing requests permission to continue Smart Energy Solutions as it exists today, with features including advanced metering infrastructure, time varying rates, Conservation Days, Peak Event hours, customer in-home technology, and continued community access to the Sustainability Hub at 912 Main St., which opened to the public in the fall of 2013.
“Not only does SES help us with ways to better serve our customers through technology, tools and enhanced infrastructure, it has given us an opportunity to innovate and work directly with the Worcester community,” said Nouel. “We are looking forward to continuing to grow our relationship with the city, the schools and universities, and the greater community as we work to engage our customers. This is not just National Grid’s program; it is the community’s.”
Operated with full-time support from Clark University and WPI students, the Sustainability Hub has served as a place for residents to learn about participation in SES and energy efficiency programs, join together for community gatherings, charge their electric vehicles, attend educational programs, and more.
If approved, Smart Energy Solutions will be extended from its current end date of Dec. 31, 2016 to the end of 2018.
About National Grid
National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE: NGG) is an electricity and natural gas delivery company that connects nearly 7 million customers to vital energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast. National Grid also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.
Through its U.S. Connect21 strategy, National Grid is transforming its electricity and natural gas networks to support the 21st century digital economy with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions. Connect21 is vital to our communities' long-term economic and environmental health and aligns with regulatory initiatives in New York (REV: Reforming the Energy Vision) and Massachusetts (Grid Modernization.)
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About National Grid
National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. National Grid is transforming our electricity and natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As part of our commitment to a clean energy future, National Grid is a Principal Partner for COP26, the UN global climate summit, which will be located in the UK in November 2021.
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