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National Grid announces revised smart grid plan for Massachusetts city

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, February 13, 2012

On Friday, February 10, Massachusetts utility National Grid announced a revised pilot proposal for its smart grid rollout in Worcester, stating the project would be $12 million cheaper than the original plan submitted in 2008, benefiting both the utility and its 15,000 customers.

According to the Worcester Business Journal, National Grid said the new proposal has many similarities to the original, such as the number of customers that will be included and an energy savings goal of 5 percent per customer.

However, the utility stated the plan had been slightly altered to incorporate public input it received at its Green to Growth Summit, which was held in December.

If the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approves the measure, the pilot program would create a "sustainability hub" that would be used to showcase devices from the burgeoning smart grid technology sector to help inform area residents of the benefits, according to Ed White, National Grid's vice president of customer strategy.

The hub would also help to encourage support and use of the new technologies.

"At least the expectation is they're going to embrace it more," White said.

According to the Worcester Telegram, the utility's smart grid plan will cost an estimated $44 million. The pilot program will run for 18 months, and will allow customers to potentially save money by using electricity during low-demand times.

National Grid says the program will improve its operating efficiency, give customers more choice in how they use their energy and promote the use of greener energy sources.

Smart grid implementation has taken off in Massachusetts, as all four utilities operating in the region are now required by state law to launch smart grid programs, according to the media outlet.

One of the central features of the new system will be to handle the vast amount of data gathered about customer energy use.

"With that real-time information on the power system, we're going to be able to run closer to our margins and make better operational efficiencies," said Cheri Warren, National Grid's vice president of asset strategy.

The project is expected to begin in June.

As utilities undertake such projects, they will need to access and manage intelligent electronic devices that have been installed on their system. SUBNET's Unified IED Access Control Security provides simple and secure remote access to field IEDs, and complies with internal IT policies as well as NERC critical infrastructure protection requirements.

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