The technology is currently operating in a selected portion of NSTAR’s service territory but can be expanded thanks to a stimulus funding from the Department of Energy, which will make it the first utility system-wide deployment of its kind in the United States. The project will be completed over the next three years.
NSTAR chairman, president and CEO, Tom May, says, “The hot, humid weather we’ve been experiencing this summer pushes electric systems to their limits. Our investments in smart grid technology are already helping to lower the number and duration of outages. So our customers, who rely on electricity more than ever in this digital age, are seeing fewer disruptions in their lives. The expansion of the GE technology throughout our system will help deliver increasingly reliable service.”
By connecting sensors, switches, and breakers with smart communications and information processing throughout NSTAR’s service territory, the grid can monitor and diagnose many problems by itself. If a crew is required to respond to the problem in the field, the system can isolate the outage and reroute power so fewer customers are affected during the repair process.
Bob Gilligan, vice president of digital energy for GE Energy Services, notes, “Nobody likes it when the lights go out. Unplanned power outages are a major economic burden. In the U.S. alone, they cost the economy over $80 billion each year. While we don’t have the technology to prevent a traffic accident or stop a tree limb from falling, we do have the technology to dramatically reduce how these events affect the flow of electricity. Now, in a matter of minutes, NSTAR’s power grid will make decisions and alter energy flow to restore power to a portion of customers almost immediately. That’s the new technology GE is offering today.”
NSTAR is the largest Massachusetts-based, investor-owned electric and gas utility, delivering electricity and natural gas to 1.4 million customers in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.nstar.com.