National Grid’s U.S. division has rolled out a home energy management (HEM) pilot in Massachusetts that combines free hardware and special applications in a bid to get customers to cut their electricity use and help the utility manage demand more efficiently. The pilot is targeted at customers in Worcester, which, for the past few years, has been the focal point of National Grid’s testing of smart grid technologies, including new Itron smart meters and other infrastructure upgrades.
About 15,000 customers are eligible to take part in the pilot. They can choose from several free bundles of technology. One of the more novel devices is a digital picture frame made by Ceiva that receives electricity consumption data from a smart meter and makes suggestions for reducing use. Smart thermostats from Carrier and smart electrical plugs from Safeplug are also available. Ceiva’s software, called Homeview, enables customers to view consumption data online and on mobile devices. For the utility, Ceiva’s Entryway software suite supports the management of smart meter-connected home area networks, residential demand response (DR) capabilities, and energy efficiency programs. The pilot is scheduled to last about 2 years at a cost of $44 million.
Cheers All Around
A number of utilities are deploying similar technology to help customers reduce energy consumption. Glendale Water & Power and San Diego Gas & Electric support Ceiva devices as part of their efforts to encourage customers to use electricity more efficiently. In addition, utilities like NV Energy, using EcoFactor technology, and Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which has deployed thermostats from Energate and software from Silver Spring Networks, have taken the lead on HEM programs for several years (for a deeper dive into the HEM space, see Navigant Research’s report, Home Energy Management).
Utilities like National Grid and the others mentioned here are to be commended for providing a range of technologies that help customers reduce consumption while also helping utilities meet efficiency targets. That’s what a smarter grid is intended to do, and more utilities should do the same.