Worcester, MA Gets Smart Grid Upgrade

National Grid has started smart grid infrastructure advancements and upgrades in Worcester, MA as part of its Smart Energy Solutions programme.
Published: Thu 29 Jan 2015

National Grid, an electricity and natural gas delivery company that serves New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has recently installed advanced technology on its electricity distribution system that includes a private, secure, high-speed communications network connecting the company, customers, and the local power system.

The upgrade forms part of its two-year Smart Energy Solutions (SES) programme—a comprehensive smart grid pilot underway in the Northeast.

The need for smarter energy solutions

Previously, National Grid relied on customers to call in service interruption information but now, with this enhancement, the utility can now efficiently and accurately identify where outages are occurring within the SES program footprint.

“Much of our current electricity system dates back to the time of Thomas Edison, yet we all want cleaner and smarter energy solutions,” Marcy Reed continued. “What we are doing in Worcester is bringing innovation and new technology solutions to our customers supported by an advanced infrastructure that is more resilient, efficient and productive.”

Additional electricity system benefits include:

  • Faster outage identification and system restoration that reduces and in some cases eliminates power interruptions;

  • Improved reliability, system performance and operational efficiency—reducing costs for grid operation and maintenance.

These investments cover approximately 150 miles of electricity distribution lines in Worcester and a wireless communication network comprised of 14 base stations. Approximately 180 devices have been installed on the overhead and underground electric system enabling many of these enhancements.

Massachusetts comes clean

Under the SES program, the company is testing full integration of renewable resources and electric vehicle charging stations in the city of Worcester. Several transformer monitors are installed at solar and wind distributed generation locations within the SES program area to help the company study the impact of distributed generation on the electric system.

Massachusetts state has established a goal to increase its onshore wind capacity to 500MW by 2020. Already, over 60MW of distributed wind have been installed in Massachusetts over the last decade, placing the commonwealth fifth among the 50 states, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Some 27 of those megawatts were installed in 2012. Distributed wind powers everything in Massachusetts from schools to breweries to the Jiminy Peak ski resort in Hancock in the Berkshires.

Due to Massachusetts’ progressive solar energy policies, the cost of solar power is decreasing and solar power installations have been increasing at a steady pace, making Massachusetts a national leader in the solar industry.

To continue with the expansion of solar energy in the State, a new solar bill, H.4185 has been proposed in the House of Representatives. This new legislation will help achieve Governor Deval Patrick’s goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar power installations by the year 2020