National Grid Builds Hub for Smart Meter Pilot

by | May 20, 2013

National Grid hubAs part of National Grid’s smart grid pilot, it will retrofit a 2,200-sq-foot space in Worcester, Mass., for a Sustainability Hub.

National Grid’s $44 million pilot was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in August 2012, and the full pilot is projected to launch in early in 2014 with smart meters installed at 15,000 of its electricity customers in Worcester, Mass., who are voluntarily participating in the program.

The space for the Sustainability Hub 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.

National Grid’s program was developed in partnership with customers, the city of Worcester and other key parties, to use advanced technology to help customers save energy and improve response to power outages. Customers who want to use their technology for demand response can set their thermostat and a load control device as part of the pilot, according to a spokeswoman for National Grid. “Additionally, if the customer wants, we can take limited control of the devices during the critical peak events when we’re experiencing peak demand and bump the temperature up a few degrees and shed the load attached to the load control device,” she said.

The Sustainability Hub will house interactive exhibits for customers to trial 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.

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.

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 US Department of Energy, and is the first street-side electric vehicle charging station to be installed in Worcester.

To date, more than half of the 15,000 smart meters have been installed for the Smart Energy Solutions Program. Installation of new technology on the electric system also is under way.

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