Blogger Attempts to Smart Grid with National Grid

This entry is not directly related to wind energy. For those who would be disappointed, please read no further.

Rather, this entry deals more generally with smart energy choices. In an effort to put my money where my mouth is, and with familial support, this blogger is attempting to use smart grid technology to make his energy use choices, well, smarter.

It describes, in reverse chronological order (i.e., most recent first), my efforts to obtain and use a smart meter for electricity consumption at my house.

April 23, 2009

Times Union piece discussing redaction of large parts of National Grid’s PSC filing on its smart meter plan.

April 18, 2009

As part of a test run, National Grid will be installing smart meters from Saratoga to Clifton Park (and in the Syracuse area). Customer savings expected to be 5%.  National Grid press release, 4/17 and   Schenectady Daily Gazette, 4/18

April 10, 2009: Official request made

I have executed and mailed to National Grid the contract described below.

April 1, 2009: Correspondence from National Grid

National Grid mailed on this date, and I received soon thereafter, a letter inviting me to participate in smart metering program, and a one-year contract. The big concern I have is that the letter says that participation will likely result in savings if my usage is greater than 2500 kwh per month (and I can shift 80% of it to off-peak times). As indicated below, the initial bill insert suggested I may receive savings if my usage were 750 kwh per month and I could shift 12% to shoulder peak and 80% to off-peak times. (My usage is around 1100 kwh per month.) Boy do I need a spreadsheet.

March 31, 2009: From National Grid via email

I spoke with the accounting supervisor this am. She will pull your request to the top of the pile. The new meter set will be ordered today. We have to ship the new meter in from Syracuse. Once the meter arrives in Albany our Service Department will complete the change out. On another note.. The 750kWh monthly would be the minimum. Our phone reps are told to be somewhat conservative in their approach to this rate. Not all people are so willing to shift their consumption patterns as you are. Thanks for your patience on this matter.

March 30, 2009: From National Grid rep via email

I have been asked to follow up on your recent rate change to SC-1C for your home account. I have a call into our accounts processing department for an update on the status of your request. I do see that you made the request back on 2/22/09. Once the supervisor gets a chance to investigate, I will let you know when the change should be completed. In the meantime should you have any questions please feel free to contact me direct at [number redacted].

and a bit later in the day:

Have you had the opportunity to review historic time of use pricing? Here is the link to review.

Make sure you use “Capital” as the load zone. Select rate SC-1C and the dates. You will see the on and off peak pricing for commodity.

I’ve responded indicating that I am interested “in knowing what your estimate is of what usage level (assuming the requisite shift to non peak hours) makes participation economical for the household” as there appeared to be a disconnect between what my bill said and what the representative I spoke with on February 22 said.

March 27, 2009: Very fast response by National Grid

As the first comment below indicates, National Grid responded within 7 hours of this posting. Very much appreciated.

March 26, 2009: Not smart metering yet.

I recently received a bill (see redacted copy below) from my electricity provider, National Grid. The bill indicated that if my usage were over 750kWh, and I could shift at least 92 % of my usage to non peak  (12% shoulder peak, 80% off peak) hours, I “may benefit” from the smart meter rates. That is the crux of the smart meter “win” for consumers. If you can use energy during times of low demand, you should pay lower rates for the juice. It’s a “win” for the grid and everyone else, too, as it reduces strain on the system during peak times. Review the peak and non-peak hours in the bill below and the logic will jump out at you.

National Grid smart meter offer

National Grid smart meter offer

I attempted to visit the website location indicated, No luck there (though I was able to find some smart meter rate information by poking around on the site).  So I called National Grid, on or about March 7 [actually, February 22 per National Grid – see above]. Maybe a week earlier. The person who attended my call was helpful, though did not know much about the program. The information she had suggested I would need to have more than 750 kWh in usage to realize savings, but it still seemed possible, especially considering what I know, or think I know, about my electricity consumption habits. She knew I would need a new meter on my house. She said she would pass my information along to the right person, who would contact me to get the new meter installed.

To date, no one from National Grid has contacted me.  I’ll call again soon if I don’t hear. (If you’re from National Grid and reading this, hey, have someone give me a call.)

If you have a smart grid/ smart meter story from New York, either pro or con, please leave a comment here.

In the meantime, you may want to read about the use of existing wireless networks for the smart  grid system, the savings in energy consumption a smart grid can generate, Google’s foray into the smart meter space (and brewing turf war over who owns or controls the smart meter data).

[first entry published 3/27/2009 at]

NY PSC approves net metering tariffs

From the New York Public Service Commission, 2/12/2009

– Installation of Small-Scale Renewable Energy Systems Encouraged –

[] The New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) today approved changes to the tariffs of the six investor-owned utilities in New York to strengthen and promote installation of small-scale renewable energy systems in homes and businesses through a greater expansion of a customer’s ability to sell power back to the utility in a process known as net metering.

“Net metering encourages the use of small-scale renewable energy systems, which provides long-term benefits to the environment and the economy,” said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. “By using net metering, a home or business owner will be able to take excess electricity created by a solar panel or other qualifying renewable generator and in effect either bank the electricity until it is needed or sell it back to the utility at its retail value – a win for the consumer and the environment.”

The change in the tariffs of the investor-owned utilities – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc., National Grid, Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation, and New York State Electric & Gas Corporation – follows on the heels of a new state law that added commercial photovoltaic and wind power customers to the list of those eligible for net metering.

The new provisions increase the maximum size of residential solar generation and farm waste generation systems eligible for net metering and expanding net metering to non-residential solar generation systems. The new law sets forth directives for net metering for residential solar, non-residential solar, and farm waste electric generating systems, with the amendments providing for the net metering of qualifying non-residential solar electric generating systems and making revisions to the provisions for the net metering of generation fueled by farm waste.

Non-residential customers can now install a renewable energy system that generates up to lesser of their peak load or 2 MW at peak performance. The law also raised the limits to 25 KW from 10 KW for residential photovoltaic customers’ systems, to 500 KW from 400 KW for farm waste systems, and to 500 KW from 125 KW for residential farm wind systems. The limit for residential wind systems stays unchanged at 25 KW.

The Commission’s decision, when issued, may be obtained from the Commission’s Web site by accessing the Commission’s File Room section of the homepage and referencing Cases 08-E-1305, 08-E-1306, 08-E-1307, 08-E-1308, 08-E-1309, and 08-E-1310.

More on New York’s net metering laws, expanded in 2008,  may be found here.

The PSC separately issued an order on the use of “smart grid” technology in New York.