In summer 2014, the DPU directed the stateÂ’s electric utilities to submit grid modernization plans that will require investments in communications, metering, automation of the distribution system and voltage management. Under its proposal, National Grid submitted four alternatives for the DPU to consider. The companyÂ’s filing is the culmination of nearly a year of research, planning, and stakeholder engagement, and is contingent on DPU review and approval.
Â“We have provided a proposal for the DPU to consider as the state strives to meet its energy goals,Â” said Peter Zschokke, National GridÂ’s director of Regulatory Strategy.
Â“We have learned much about grid modernization through our Smart Energy Solutions pilot program in Worcester, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss with the department, customers and stakeholders whether these advanced technologies would provide sufficient value for customers to justify the costs.Â”
National GridÂ’s filing allows the DPU, stakeholders and customers to consider the benefits and costs from grid modernization plans with various scale, scope and technology choices. The proposal is informed by lessons learned from National GridÂ’s Smart Energy Solutions program, the largest and most comprehensive smart grid deployment in Massachusetts, with nearly 15,000 participants.
National GridÂ’s proposal could provide benefits to customers that include:
- Two-way exchange of information between the customer and the company
- New technology and two-way communications devices on power lines and associated electrical equipment, which will help National Grid more quickly identify the location and cause of power outages, and help automatically return customers to service through use of advanced technologies
- New energy management technologies, web based applications and other tools that would provide the opportunity for National GridÂ’s customers to improve their management of energy use, and potentially save money
- The ability to provide time-varying rates, or time-of-use rates, which give customers the opportunity to lower their electric bills by using power when it is least expensive
- The potential to interconnect more renewable energy sources
- Voltage management technologies that help evenly distribute power across a distribution feeder with the additional potential to save energy
- New workforce skills, which can result in new opportunities for employees and job creation in Massachusetts
The companyÂ’s proposals result in a wide range of investment levels over five years, from $225 million to $830 million. While the plan is contingent on DPU approval, the company estimates that these investments could add between 0.25 percent and one percent to a typical residential customerÂ’s monthly electric bill, every year for five years.