The goal is to achieve four grid modernization objectives: reducing the effects of outages; optimizing demand, including reducing system and customer costs; integrating distributed resources; and improving workforce and asset management.
Massachusetts has approximately three and a half million electricity customers, the vast majority of which are served by an investor-owned utility. NStar, which serves most of the greater Boston area and National Grid (NGG) are the state’s largest utilities.
Worcester, located in National Grid’s service area, has participated in a multi-year smart grid pilot project that included smart metering, distribution automation, home energy management, electric vehicle charging, and demand response. The data from that program has played an integral role in guiding smart grid modernization plans.
Part of the pilot was a working group comprised of consumer groups, environmental advocates, utilities, state agencies, and other energy stakeholders that exchanged views on what features they thought would maximize the potential of a smart grid. These included reduced meter-related operations and maintenance expenses; theft prevention; reduced billing inquiries and customer service; improved outage management; lowering energy consumption from inactive meters; increased energy efficiency; and increased use of electric vehicles (EV).
While establishing an EV infrastructure is also part of the Massachusetts’ long-term plans, it was not included in the mandate. Instead, the DPU has initiated a new proceeding to determine the most effective way to promote electric vehicle charging and devise pricing policies to encourage EV adoption.