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National Grid Submits Final ‘Future Grid’ Plan

Feb. 20, 2024
The proposed investments in the plan are foundational to meeting electric demand that is projected to more than double by 2050, due primarily to the electrification of heating and transportation.

National Grid submitted its Electric Sector Modernization Plan – the Future Grid Plan — to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) outlining the critical investments needed in the local electric distribution system over the next five and 10 years to meet Massachusetts’ climate change, clean energy, and equity goals. The proposed investments in the plan are foundational to meeting electric demand that is projected to more than double by 2050, due primarily to the electrification of heating and transportation.

The plan outlines a path to upgrade and expand the capacity of the electric distribution grid, ensure reliability, accelerate the connection of more solar, storage and electrified heating and transportation, empower smart customer choices, and enable a just and equitable transition away from a fossil-based economy. The plan details National Grid’s commitment to delivering a fair, affordable, and clean energy future for all its customers while meeting the goals set out in the state’s 2050 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (2050 CECP).

The company submitted an initial draft of this Future Grid Plan to the Grid Modernization Advisory Council (GMAC) in September 2023. The plan submitted today incorporates recommendations from the GMAC along with feedback from hundreds of customers and stakeholders from across the Commonwealth.

Meeting the Commonwealth’s climate and clean energy goals will require the connection of large amounts of new, clean energy resources to the electric grid and the accelerated adoption of clean, electrified technologies by customers statewide. By 2050, the electric distribution system will be the primary fuel network powering the economy and everyday life. Achieving this requires a smarter, stronger, and cleaner grid and policy changes, including permitting and siting reform and anticipatory planning, to enable proactive investments that:

  • Empower customers to make the smart, clean energy choices that work for them and accelerate electrification to meet the 2050 CECP goals, which include more than 80% of home heating systems and 97% of all passenger vehicles to be electrified;
  • Create a ready, reliable, and more resilient grid capable of withstanding increasingly extreme weather and enabling the quicker connection of solar, storage, and electrified buildings and transportation;
  • Drive increased energy efficiency through new innovations, and support non-wire alternatives (NWAs) to defer or avoid system build-out; and
  • Enable a more just and equitable energy future that benefits all.

Three Key Areas of Investment

Over the next five years, the company proposes to invest approximately $2.5 billion in three key areas to enable the Commonwealth to meet the 2050 CECP climate and clean energy goals and interim decarbonization milestones, including:

Network Infrastructure Investments: To proactively meet significant increases in forecasted loads and capacity needs driven by policies to accelerate electrification and distributed energy resource (DER) deployment, including local solar and storage. This includes upgrading and expanding 13 existing substations and undertaking 14 distribution feeder projects by 2030 to make the system stronger and increase capacity in areas where projected overloads and constraints have been identified.

Communication and Technology Platform Investments: To leverage data and state-of-the art monitoring systems to make the system smarter and meet evolving customer needs. These technologies will provide two-way information flows for visibility into how grid-connected devices are operating, enable expanded use of NWAs, and leverage technology that can minimize disruptions, including systems that detect outages early and enable the immediate rerouting of electricity.

Customer Program Investments: To enhance the customer experience and drive adoption of clean, electrified, and efficient energy solutions, including advancement of VPPs. This includes supplementing a program offering supported by a federal grant that provides battery storage for select income-eligible customers that can be used during times of constrained electric load, deferring potential upgrades while increasing resiliency for homes and entire neighborhoods, and expanding managed charging programs for EV drivers that will both save money for customers and reduce peak electric demand on the grid.
The investments proposed in this Future Grid Plan are projected to have an average annual impact of 0.6 percent over the five-year investment period.

Centered on affordability and equity, the plan is designed to meet the state’s climate goals based on transparent, data-driven, proactive distribution system planning. The plan is designed to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions are implemented, that customer owned DERs can help meet reliability needs and defer system upgrades, and that economic opportunity is generated for all. The plan does this by:

  • Conducting more than 2,000 different scenarios of future electric load growth to prioritize investment plans so the company is building only what is needed, when it is needed to meet the state’s climate and clean energy goals.
  • Pursuing NWAs to defer investments in new infrastructure and deploying communication and technology platforms that will support the expanded use of NWAs into the future.
  • Expanding the company’s strategic Workforce Development Program to ensure a ready, available, and skilled workforce, with a focus on creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities.
  • Proposing a Community Engagement Stakeholder Advisory Group, in coordination with Eversource and Unitil, to develop an equity-centered community engagement framework to apply to major infrastructure projects proposed before the DPU and/or state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board.

Launching a National Grid-specific Equity and Environmental Justice Policy and Equity Stakeholder Engagement Framework focused on communities that have not historically participated in the project development and/or regulatory processes.

Next Steps

The DPU will review the plan through a formal regulatory process that includes opportunity for public comment and intervention. This process is anticipated to take seven months, after which the DPU will issue an order approving, rejecting, or modifying the plan. The plan, a summary, fact sheet and related information, can be found on the National Grid Future Grid web page.


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