Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

National Grid adds virtual home features to smart energy programme

Steve Rogerson
May 12, 2015
Massachusetts-based National Grid has added features and functionality to its smart energy programme online customer portal with the launch of a virtual home tool. Participants can use this interactive view of their home to learn where and how they can reduce their energy usage, and save money.
By implementing simple energy savings tips and shifting energy use to off-peak times, participants are seeing the benefits of knowing how much energy they are using.
“I really appreciate this programme,” said Henry Chamberlain, a National Grid customer. “The smart meter gives me real-time info and I monitor my usage to curtail my high energy usage to off peak times.”
The virtual home feature is part of the programme’s online customer engagement portal that is managed by Simple Energy and provides a range of customer experiences: helping customers better understand their energy use and how to conserve; viewing how energy savings stacks up against their neighbours; allowing participants who complete energy efficiency measures to earn points and become eligible for a daily draw for $25 gift cards with top energy savers eligible for a monthly iPad Mini draw; and interactive display with over 20 energy efficiency tips.
This winter, a power outage in the programme’s pilot area in Worcester had the potential to impact adversely approximately 1000 users. However, as a result of the recent installation of advanced technology, National Grid was able to reduce the outage’s impact significantly.
“The advanced communication and monitoring devices that provide detailed power outage information were able to safely and automatically restore power within four minutes to approximately 700 customers,” said Bill Jones, director of the National Grid programme. “We are pleased to see that customers are directly benefitting from the improvements we have made.”
An additional 100 customers had their power restored within 15 minutes and the rest within the hour. Without the new capabilities, it may have taken close to two hours to restore power. While any outage is not desirable, National Grid was able to assess the performance of the infrastructure and able to use these findings to improve the reliability and performance of the electrical system.
Participants may also be able to take advantage of a range of technology tools and options, including the Homeview app from Ceiva Energy that allows them to monitor and manage their energy use remotely. This includes controlling in-home devices such as smart thermostats and smart plugs. They can also receive notifications via phone call, email or text message in advance of peak events – certain hours throughout the year (typically during summer) when electricity costs are high and there are capacity constraints due to the high use of electricity.
January 2015 marked the official start of the two-year programme with nearly 15,000 participating in Worcester.
National Grid connects nearly seven million users to energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.