NSTAR is launching an innovative Smart Grid pilot program to enable consumers to become increasingly aware of how informed energy decisions can benefit our planet. The program will provide customers with the real-time information they need to reduce energy usage while at the same time keeping costs lower than other Smart Grid approaches. NSTAR will accomplish this by using advanced technology to pair its existing automated meter reading equipment with broadband Internet service to provide two-way communications directly to a customer’s computer and a Home Area Network. Smart Grid technology can help reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions by giving customers the tools they need to make informed energy decisions.
“Never before has there been a time when customers have been able to take such an active role in limiting carbon output through advanced technology,” said Tom May, NSTAR Chairman, President and CEO. “By offering a Smart Grid pilot program that uses technology already in place in most homes, we’re uniquely positioned to provide real-time usage information while also keeping customer costs down.”
Approximately 3,000 NSTAR customers will be selected for the pilot program. The company already uses a “smart” approach to their distribution system, with thousands of intelligent switches and sensors across the system that reduce the number of power outages and provide real-time information on grid performance.
Customers participating in the program would be able to access the energy usage information via a Home Area Network and web application provided to them by NSTAR – allowing energy use decisions to be made in real-time. The web application would also include information about electric system conditions and, in instances of high electricity demand, would notify customers of incentives available to those willing to lower their use. Some customers will also be offered new “smart thermostats” that would change the temperature in their homes depending on the company’s electric system conditions.
The pilot was developed in response to the Massachusetts Green Communities Act. If approved by the Department of Public Utilities in 2009, NSTAR would begin rolling out the program in 2010.