May 15, 2017
National Grid today announced strong results from its two-year Smart Energy Solutions (SES) program, demonstrating high customer satisfaction, retention and savings from a smart grid program for 11,000 customers in Worcester.
An annual evaluation revealed the SES program achieved a 98 percent retention rate, a 69 percent customer satisfaction rate and total customer savings of $1.8 million on their electric bills from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016. Participating customers also experienced significant energy savings: collectively, customers saved a total of 1,573 megawatt-hours – enough to power more than 100 homes for a year. Additionally, the average customer reduced their usage during peak periods of energy demand by 7.2 percent in 2016, an increase from 3.9 percent in 2015.
“We are extremely pleased with the results from the Smart Energy Solutions program and will use the data and insight as we continue our modernization efforts,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “Our pricing plans and in-home technologies demonstrated significant value for customers and we are eager to bring those benefits to more customers so they can better manage their energy usage and costs.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved National Grid’s Smart Energy Solutions program in 2012. To keep the DPU and other interested parties updated, National Grid prepared an annual evaluation report on the customer experience. Key findings in the 158-page report include notable energy and Peak Event savings, the important role of technology and strong customer satisfaction.
In 2016, National Grid filed for a two-year extension of the Smart Energy Solutions program in Worcester. The DPU approved an interim extension.
With its focus on technology, tools and infrastructure, the program has informed the company’s grid modernization proposal in Massachusetts, which is pending review with the DPU.
“The Smart Energy Solutions program yielded an innovative blueprint beneficial to all our customers as we embrace the next wave of energy technologies,” Reed added. “Participants saved money and reduced their energy consumption by positively responding to incentives and pricing models.”
A key feature for National Grid’s Smart Energy Solutions program is the installation of the latest technology to improve reliability and electricity system performance. These investments have enhanced by 10 percent the reliability of the electricity distribution system in the program area. Special equipment and switches that report and automatically isolate power outages minimized the impact for customers, reducing the number of minutes customers were interrupted by 194,000 minutes over the two-year period.
Customer Savings and Performance
The most important phase of the SES program began in early 2015 with the activation of two dynamic pricing plans: Smart Rewards Pricing and Conservation Day Rebate. Both these plans provided participants with opportunities to lower their energy bills. For both the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016, National Grid notified customers of 20 Conservation Days, days when demand for energy was expected to be high. On these hot and humid days, the price of electricity increased during designated hours, called Peak Events.
During Peak Events, customers utilizing no-cost in-home technologies (digital picture frames, smart thermostats, smart plugs and the online energy portal) were able to reduce energy usage up to 31 percent. The most popular action was to avoid using energy-intensive appliances during Peak Events. The average residential customer using the Smart Rewards Pricing plan saved $236 over the two-year period. The average residential customer taking the Conservation Day Rebate plan received a total of $30 in credits for reducing their usage during the 40 Conservation Days. Collectively, participants in both plans saved a total of $1.8 million in 2015 and 2016.
Customer Engagement and Experience
As part of the program evaluation, National Grid explored customers’ expectations of the program, their reasons for participating, and their experience during the Conservation Days of 2015 and 2016. Key findings include strong customer satisfaction, bill savings, and retention rates with few customers opting-out of the SES program’s time-based rates. Close to 70 percent of customers were satisfied with the Smart Energy Solutions program.
Importantly, the company found that that customer savings were in line with other, mostly opt-in, smart grid programs across the country. The evaluation report stated, “The 98 percent retention rate achieved by National Grid after two years running the Pilot - coupled with the fact that the Company called more event days [Conservation Days] in each summer than any other dynamic rate (pricing) pilot - is remarkable.”
National Grid’s Sustainability Hub, located at 912 Main Street in Worcester, will also continue to be an important location for customers and the larger Worcester community. Since opening in the fall of 2013, the Hub has provided over 8,000 visitors with hands-on education about sustainability, smart grid technologies and energy efficiency.
To learn more about the Smart Energy Solutions program including the pricing plans, please visit www.worcestersmart.com . To access the Smart Energy Solutions Evaluation Report, please visit http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoom and search for DPU Docket 10-82 (“Smart Grid Pilot Evaluation Working Group”)
About National Grid
National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE: NGG) is an electricity and natural gas delivery company that connects nearly 7 million customers to vital energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast. National Grid also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.
Through its U.S. Connect21 strategy, National Grid is transforming its electricity and natural gas networks to support the 21st century digital economy with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions. Connect21 is vital to our communities' long-term economic and environmental health and aligns with regulatory initiatives in New York (REV: Reforming the Energy Vision) and Massachusetts (Grid Modernization).