National Grid makes sustainability hub part of its smart grid pilot

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: I've been ranting for a while that utilities need to do a better job. Not with their technology. But with the way they present and explain that technology to ratepayers.

 

National Grid is one of the U.S. utilities working hard to do it right. It has tied its 15,000-meter smart grid pilot in Worcester, MA to sustainability and a "green economy." It identified that theme as important to the community during town hall gatherings and other meetings it conducted in advance. As the release below explains, National Grid really did develop its partnership "in partnership with customers."

 

As part of the pilot, National Grid is collaborating with vendors and the community to build a 2,200-square-foot Sustainability Hub to educate the public about smart energy. Notice as well how the utility's communications tie the smart grid to things customers want, including saving energy, increasing reliability, and reducing outages. There are several good lessons here. - By Jesse Berst

 

NATIONAL GRID UNVEILS FUTURE HOME OF SUSTAINABILITY HUB

Smart Energy Solutions Program Brings Together Local Colleges, Art Students and Vendors to Help Deliver Customer Benefits

 

WORCESTER, Mass. – National Grid today unveiled plans for the future home of its Sustainability Hub, a 2,200 square-foot facility centrally located within the company’s smart grid pilot area in Worcester, Mass. The space, located at 912 Main Street, has been donated by Clark University and will connect the community and customers under one roof to provide interactive education about energy efficiency and emerging technologies. It is an integral part of the company’s smart grid pilot – now known as the Smart Energy Solutions Program – for 15,000 customers who choose to participate.

“The centerpiece of our Smart Energy Solutions Program is to take a listen, test and learn approach while delivering substantive benefits to customers,” said Marcy Reed, president, National Grid in Massachusetts. “Our unique Sustainability Hub is a tangible testament to the dialog we will continue with customers and the community. The Hub literally shows that we are here with customers each day and connected to the community on this program and so much more. We are so proud and appreciative of the creativity, support and generosity of the many that are on this journey with us.”

 

Sustainability Hub Features

  • National Grid’s Sustainability Hub will house interactive exhibits and educational materials to demonstrate the advanced technology offered as part of the program that will help customers maximize energy savings. This includes helping customers “try-on” in-home energy use displays, programmable thermostats, and dynamic pricing options.
  • Local university student ambassadors from Clark University, Holy Cross and Worcester Polytechnic Institute will help staff the Hub, creating cooperative learning opportunities for both local customers and students. Students also will participate in various internship opportunities under the pilot.
  • Six students from the Claremont Academy’s Art Studio have designed an abstract mural for one of the Hub’s outside walls that incorporates a conceptual map of the local geography and combines a community, energy and sustainability message. Local artist Jen Swan will transfer the concept onto the outer wall.
  • Demonstrations offered in the Hub will include energy efficiency treatments such as windows, spray-in insulation and tankless water heaters. Displays on controllable and programmable appliances will be available. Exhibits on advanced meters, smart grid electricity system devices and renewables will be on-hand, and an interactive energy management tool will be made available to Hub visitors so they can learn more about energy choice.
  • The Sustainability Hub will feature a community exhibit area that will showcase the many efforts by local organizations that under way throughout the city.
  • When completed during the fall of 2013, the Sustainability Hub will be fully renovated with sustainable materials and energy-efficient equipment, donated from vendors including Mitsubishi, GE/Phillips, Blue Hive and Verizon.
  • An electric vehicle charging station will be installed just outside of the facility, which was provided through ChargePoint, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and is the first street-side electric vehicle charging station to be installed in Worcester.

 

A-Z Corporation, Westborough, Mass. will serve as the Sustainability Hub design-build firm. The Worcester Business Development Corporation is coordinating construction to fast-track building the facility and is helping to identify resources that are donating materials, appliances and services.

 

Program Updates

As part of the Smart Energy Solutions Program, National Grid will continue to focus on proactive customer and community engagement that enables customer interaction and education - a key difference that sets this pilot apart from other smart grid programs across the country. In March, National Grid launched an informative website designed to help customers learn more about the program. Visit www.nationalgrid.com/smartenergy.

 

National Grid also is using social media to provide information and continue the dialogue on the pilot, as well as energy savings tips, products and special offers via Facebook and Twitter @Green2Growth.

 

The pilot calls for installation of advanced metering systems that provide the very latest in technology and security. To date, more than half of the 15,000 advanced meters have been installed.

 

Installation of the latest technology on the electric system also is under way. This equipment is designed to test and improve reliability and system responsiveness.

 

National Grid’s pilot was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in August 2012. Full pilot launch is planned for early 2014.

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About National Grid

National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society - to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the center of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.

 

In the northeast US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles. In Great Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country. National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation, providing power to over one million LIPA customers. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. For more information please visit our website: www.nationalgridus.com.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.