National Grid seeks to extend smart grid pilot in Massachusetts

National Grid — Massachusetts

Massachusetts Electric Co. and National Grid, in an Aug. 30 filing submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, said that it is seeking to extend its Smart Energy Solutions Program until Dec. 31, 2018.

The company noted that it is currently conducting a two-year smart grid pilot under the Green Communities Act, Section 85 of Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008, and the DPU’s August 2012 order, which approved the company’s pilot proposal, with certain modifications.

The pilot’s smart pricing, bill protection and demand response capabilities went into effect for participating customers on Jan. 1, 2015, the company said, noting that the pilot is scheduled to end on Dec. 31.

Extending the pilot would further the goals of Section 85, and continue to provide benefits to customers, the company said. In addition, extending the pilot would provide additional empirical evidence on the operational benefits of the distribution grid-facing assets installed as part of the pilot, as well as on customer acceptance and response to time varying rates, the company said.

The company also noted that the results of the pilot to date have shown that customers have noticeably benefitted from their participation in the pilot, including peak and average load reductions, and measurable bill savings.

The results from the first year of the operation of the grid devices and experiments that are part of the pilot and that provide the remote detection, operation and communications capabilities have shown significant customer, reliability and operational efficiency benefits, and indicate customer value in its continuation, the company said.

An interim update filed in April indicated that the advanced distribution automation delivered an about 75 percent reduction in customer minutes interrupted for two events, and that the System Average Interruption Duration Index for the pilot area experienced a 9 percent reduction with ADA.

National Grid added that it is proposing to keep in place, and continue operating, the capital assets installed as part of the pilot, which include smart meters, grid devices, and a communication system.

The company said that it also proposes to continue customer-facing investments from the pilot, which in addition to the about 15,000 automated metering infrastructure meters, includes Software as a Service metering data collection and processing solutions, the Smart Energy Solutions customer web portal, which the company will seek to incorporate into its corporate website, in-home technology, network monitoring, cybersecurity, customer outreach and education, the Sustainability Hub and Smart Pricing, which implements time of use pricing.

The company said that those capital assets would continue to benefit customers in the form of shorter restoration times in the event of an outage and increased operational efficiency of the distribution grid, and would potentially enable the integration of additional distributed generation technologies and electric vehicles.

Among other things, the company said that removing those assets would cause the company to incur unnecessary removal expenses and potentially stranded costs.

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