National Grid Unveils Smart Grid Pilot Program For New York

National Grid has proposed a smart grid demonstration program in the Syracuse area that will serve a

The company's plan calls for a test site of 39,400 homes and businesses in the Syracuse area that will use equipment to give customers information about their energy use and tools to reduce their carbon footprint and manage their energy costs.

A smart grid is a network for electricity transmission and distribution systems that uses two-way communications, advanced sensors, and specialized computers to improve the efficiency, reliability and safety of electricity delivery and use.

In addition, smart grids also provide environmental benefits by helping to reduce energy use during peak hours and accommodate distributed generation facilities (such as solar energy) to the grid. The company submitted its plan to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) last week.

Tom King, president of National Grid, US, said: 'The backbone of the new, clean energy economy is going to be a reliable smart grid system that will allow customers to better manage their energy use and costs and be compatible with new technology such as home solar energy generators and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

''National Grid is committed to improving its infrastructure to deliver excellent customer service and reliability. This comprehensive smart grid demonstration proposal will test this new system to ensure it will meet the needs of our customers and new clean energy technologies. The new model is one in which energy is integrated at a local level taking advantage of renewable energy sources and reducing overall usage.''

Mr King said that the proposal, which is subject to PSC approval, aligns with the recently adopted New York State Energy Plan that calls for reducing state electricity use to 15% below forecast levels by 2015.

The company said that the proposed site was chosen because of the Syracuse area's diverse populations of residential and commercial customers, offering the opportunity to test smart grid technology with a variety of customers.

National Grid's Smart Technology Centre (STC) in Liverpool, New York will be a major part of the program. The STC is an outdoor laboratory and training facility that tests and evaluates smart grid technologies to ensure safe, secure and reliable equipment performance prior to deployment, said the company. Apart from testing smart grid equipment for the proposed Syracuse area site, the lab tests equipment for other sites within National Grid's US service territory.

The company added that under the program, all customers will receive a smart meter, and some customers will have the option to have additional equipment installed in their homes that includes special programmable thermostats and other devices that provide data and support energy management.