National Grid proposes system reliability, energy efficiency measures for 2014 in Rhode Island

Rhode Island state regulators will hold a public hearing on Dec. 11 involving Narragansett Electric’s d/b/a National Grid USA’s energy efficiency program plan (EEPP) for 2014 and the company’s 2014 system reliability procurement (SRP) report.

The state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) also said in its Nov. 15 notice of public hearing that it will examine the propriety of proposals to implement rate changes for electric and gas service contained in two settlement agreements jointly submitted by National Grid, the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Energy Council of Rhode Island, Environment Northeast and RI Energy Efficiency and Resources Management Council.

In Docket No. 4453 involving the SRP report, the parties seek approval of National Grid’s proposed budget of $399,208 to continue the third year of the load curtailment pilot to test the use of load curtailment by customers, or demand response, as a means of managing local distribution capacity requirements during peak periods.

In Docket No. 4451, the parties seek approval of the EEPP, the PUC said, noting that the agreement provides National Grid with a budget to implement electric and gas energy efficiency programs targeted at different classes of residential, commercial and industrial customers. The proposed budget for the electric programs is about $87.5m, while the proposed budget for the gas programs is about $25.8m.

If approved, the combined net impact of the electric EEPP and SRP on a typical residential customer using 500 kWh per month is an increase of 20 cents per month, while the impact of the gas EEPP on a typical residential heating customer using 846 therms per year is an increase of $15.32 per year.

In its Nov. 1 filing with the PUC involving the SRP report, National Grid said that similar to the past two years, the 2014 SRP report is consistent with the framework established in the three-year energy efficiency procurement plan filed in Docket No. 4284 to integrate the analysis of non-wires alternatives into the company’s planning functions by using analytical tools to evaluate the costs and benefits of traditional and non-wires alternative solutions, and to identify system needs for which a non-wires alternative is the preferred solution.

National Grid said it is proposing to continue the load curtailment pilot, which began in 2012 and was approved by the PUC in Docket No. 4296, to test the use of load curtailment by customers, or demand response, as a means to manage local distribution capacity requirements during peak periods.

In the company’s 2012 SRP report supplement, National Grid identified the area served by its Tiverton substation as an appropriate candidate for a non-wires alternative pilot. The pilot area serves 5,600 customers.

National Grid also said that with the increased success experienced so far this year with recruiting customers to the pilot, the 2014 report proposes to continue offering the same portfolio of products and incentives as has been offered this year. The 2014 report will continue to directly market to customers to maintain recruitment, but it will also place a focus on participant communications and management as well as demand response event administration, which is expected to begin in earnest in 2014.

Noting that it is requesting the PUC’s approval of the third-year budget for the 2014 SRP report in the amount of $399,208, National Grid said it also seeks approval to apply the existing fund balance in the amount of $57,158 to the 2014 budget to reduce the amount of customer funding to $342,050.

If the pilot is successful in enrolling enough load relief and in providing sustained load relief over a certain amount of time, it will result in deferral of a new substation feeder estimated to cost $2.93m in 2014.

National Grid also said that it is expected that the 2014 investment will create combined annual summer demand savings of 293 kW and combined lifetime demand savings of 2,226 kW for the residential, commercial and industrial sectors in the Tiverton/Little Compton area of Rhode Island. Also, in 2014, the pilot will create combined annual energy savings of 280 MWh and combined lifetime energy savings of 4,212 MWh in the same area.

The company further noted that it plans to continue all incentives that were offered in 2013 in the next pilot year, including the Ecobee Inc., WiFi thermostats for customers with central air, the Ecobee Inc., WiFi thermostats and Smart Plugs for customers with window AC, the window AC purchase and recycling rebates, and the encouragement to complete an EnergyWise or Small Business Services audit through the statewide energy efficiency programs.

“With this suite of incentives, the pilot can effectively offer something for almost any customer who has air conditioning and is therefore contributing to what the company believes is the primary driver of the increasing load in the area,” National Grid said.

Among other things, the company said it is proposing to add two enhancements to the pilot, including one for customers completing an EnergyWise or Small Business Direct Install audit. Standard LED light bulbs will be installed instead of CFLs.

The other enhancement is for customers who have larger window AC units, the company said, noting that currently, the Smart Plugs being used are rated only for smaller window ACs, so customers with AC units larger than 8,000 Btu have so far been ineligible for incentives through the pilot. The company said it has found a similar plug load control device that may work with larger AC units and if it is determined that that device is compatible with the Ecobee Inc. thermostats for demand response activities, it will be incorporated into the pilot next year to expand the eligible pool of participants even more.

In its Nov. 1 filing involving its EEPP, National Grid said that the 2014 plan will create annual savings of 255,314 MWh and 355,923 MMBtu and lifetime savings of about 3.3 million MWh and about 4.4 million MMBtu.

Also, the plan will generate economic benefits of more than $420.9m over the life of the measures, with $367.4m in benefits coming from electric efficiency and $53.5m in benefits from natural gas efficiency, which National Grid noted represents a large and urgently needed benefit for the state’s residential, commercial, industrial and low-income energy customers.

Among other things, the company said that the plan will implement four strategies including one that will employ customer segmentation, targeted marketing efforts and various delivery channels to increase participation in energy efficiency.

Another strategy focuses on economic growth, the company said, noting that the 2014 plan will create value for Rhode Island through job creation, lowering energy bills for participants and non-participants, and will look for ways to lower the cost of energy efficiency in future years.

National Grid is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com.