Revised Smart Grid Plan Announced For Worcester
By Matt Pilon
Worcester Business Journal Staff Writer
National Grid this morning announced a revised smart grid pilot proposal for 15,000 Worcester customers that would be $12 million cheaper than its original 2008 plan, which was withdrawn last year.
The utility company said much about the new proposal is the same, including the number of customers it will include and the energy savings goal of 5 percent for each of those customers.
National Grid said it had modified the plan to include public input received during its Green to Growth Summit, a two-day forum held in September at the DCU Center.
If approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, the pilot program would include a "Sustainability Hub," which would showcase emerging smart grid energy technology to educate area residents, said Ed White, the utility's vice president of customer strategy. The idea would also be to encourage future support and use of the technology.
"At least the expectation is they're going to embrace it more," White said.
He said Worcester residents, business owners and others called for the hub at the September summit. National Grid is working with Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute on what the hub would look like. A location has not yet been decided.
Cheri Warren, National Grid's vice president of asset strategy, said it will use the latest cloud computing storage technology, which she said was unavailable in 2008.
Renting space on cloud servers to store the electricity usage data will allow the utility to avoid the costly project of building its own data storage system, which she said would have been difficult to scale down to the pilot program.
Other cost savings were found by partnering with a vendor that will provide a third of the 15,000 smart meters that will be used, she said.
Warren said consumers and National Grid will benefit from the eventual digitizing of the electricity grid.
"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," she said.
The pilot, which is required by the 2008 Green Communities Act, could start by June.
Vincent DeVito, executive director of the Institute for Energy & Sustainability in Worcester, worked with National Grid on the Green to Growth Summit and said the company was unusually eager to involve the community in determining priorities for the pilot project.
"They really did a nice outreach in terms of inviting folks to come to this dialog," he said.
February 9, 2012