National Grid, Massachusetts, has been named among the top utilities connecting the most megawatts of solar energy in the US last year. This achievement has earned the utility a top spot on the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA’s) Top 10 annual utility solar listings.
Positioned in fifth place on the Annual Solar Megawatts Interconnected by Utility list, National Grid managed to connect 123MW of solar to the grid in Massachusetts in 2014. The utility also scored seventh place on the Annual Interconnections by Utility list by connecting just over 5,000 new solar customers in Massachusetts last year.
SEPA’s eighth annual survey includes figures from more than 1,000 utilities across the country on new solar they interconnected both in 2014 and cumulatively. SEPA is an educational nonprofit organization working to help utilities make solar energy a safe, reliable and reasonably priced part of their energy portfolios, while benefiting themselves, their customers and the general public.
Developing Massachusetts’ grid of the future
So far, National Grid has connected over 300MW of customer-sited solar generation in the state, and is constructing 19 new company-owned solar projects which will add 16MW of generating capacity to its solar portfolio this year.
The company is also committed to the delivery of large-scale renewable electricity sources; natural gas infrastructure investment and energy efficiency programmes, all of which will provide customers in the region with affordable, clean, reliable energy.
Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, says: “As our customers become increasingly interested in the benefits of clean, renewable energy resources, we are enabling their choices and planning the energy grid of the future while working closely with the state’s Net Metering Task Force to come up with ways to continue this growth at lower cost for all customers.”
Reed adds that National Grid aims to empower its customers and communities by linking customer needs and public policy goals with technology and market solutions. “This will drive energy productivity, create a cleaner energy environment and more robust local economies. The company will continue to play a pivotal role in enabling new technologies to be implemented more quickly, serving as a community catalyst for solar generation, electric vehicles and more.”
Connect21 strategy aligns with solar plans
National Grid’s approach to planning and operating energy infrastructure in the Northeast, which the company calls Connect21, aligns with the Commonwealth’s goal to install 1,600MW of solar generation in Massachusetts by 2020.
Connect21 is essentially a framework that links customer needs and policy goals with technology and market solutions. It is a coordinated, collaborative strategy which has been designed to 20th century systems into the 21st century. the framework has three primary functions:
1. Build a resilient backbone for the National Grid energy system that can provide reliable, flexible electric and gas service to all customers and integrate clean energy wherever it is located on the grid.
2. Inform customers about choices available to them to meet their energy needs and educate them on how to manage their use in the most cost-effective way.
3. Offer customized solutions to customers who want different levels of service.
Solar market experiences unstoppable momentum
Julia Hamm, SEPA’s president and CEO, says that the Top 10 survey results confirm the unstoppable momentum now propelling solar market expansion in the United States and the active role many utilities are playing in it.
Hamm explains, “Consumers across the country want solar, and their utilities are responding, with streamlined interconnection procedures as well as new and innovative projects and business models. And we’re seeing this growth not only in well-established markets, such as in California or Hawaii, but in unexpected pockets of solar activity, including Tennessee, Utah and Montana.”