Department of Public Utilities Announces Approval of National Grid’s Smart Grid Pilot Program
BOSTON – Friday, August 3, 2012 - The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) today approved National Grid’s Smart Grid pilot program, a big step in furthering Massachusetts’ clean energy revolution. This smart grid pilot, pursuant to the Green Communities Act of 2008, includes approximately 15,000 customers in Worcester, or 1.2 percent of National Grid’s electricity customers, and promises to result in rich information regarding the potential deployment of smart grid in the Commonwealth.
The two-year pilot will test the ability of new technologies to reduce customer outages, save customers money by improving the operational efficiency of the grid, and fully integrate renewable energy and electric vehicles into the grid. The pilot will also provide customers access to detailed energy usage information, enabled by advanced meters, which customers can access online or with cell phone apps, or through a variety of technologies installed in homes and businesses. In addition, National Grid will test the impact of new pricing structures that reflect the changing costs of electricity, including higher costs at “peak” usage times, such as hot summer days, and lower costs at other times. These pricing structures, coupled with the variety of pilot tools and technologies, will enable cost savings for individual customers and the electric system as a whole.
“This pilot is an important next step in bringing the energy future closer to today,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “It is critical the utilities modernize the grid so outages happen less frequently and restoration can happen faster. And the fact that the program could lead to cost-savings for customers makes it a win-win.”
“National Grid’s smart grid pilot is designed to answer significant questions about how the reliability of the electric grid can be improved in the face of storms and other challenges, and about how customers can control their energy costs,” said DPU Chair Ann Berwick. “We look forward to pilot implementation, and to learning the lessons that will put us on a path to a completely modern electric infrastructure.”
The pilot program is not mandatory. Customers in the pilot area can opt out. National Grid’s pilot will also employ and test the extensive use of community-based and traditional channels of outreach and education, which is a vital and a “cutting edge” element of successful smart grid implementation. Through this pilot program, National Grid aims to meet the goals of the Green Communities Act to reduce peak and total electricity consumption by at least 5 percent.
In combination with the aggressive energy efficiency, distributed generation, and renewable resource initiatives enacted in the Commonwealth, a successful deployment of smart grid technologies will greatly assist the Commonwealth in meeting its energy goals, and enable the electric distribution companies to improve their distribution networks to meet the evolving needs of customers and increasing requirements to address climate change.
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