National Grid’s Clifton Park smart meter pilot program on hold
The state Department of Public Service has approved seven utility-of-the-future projects that are part of the state’s reform of the state’s energy markets – although a pilot program designated for Clifton Park was not OK’d.
The approved projects include a plan by National Grid to install 5 kilowatt solar panel systems on 100 residential rooftops in the Fruit Belt neighborhood on Buffalo’s east side, near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
National Grid had also submitted a request to do a REV pilot program in Clifton Park that would give customers the option of fixed rate plans that would be based on their historic consumption and energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. That project was not approved yet is among five proposals that the DPS is asking National Grid and other utilities to revise.
“The Clifton Park Smart Grid project continues to be under review. The (DPS) has indicated that this proposal does represent a REV project that is relevant and innovative, but requires further review and assessment,” National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella told the Times Union Tuesday. “We will await further direction from (DPS) staff as the process continues and work with them to move the project forward.”
PSC spokesman James Denn said the DPS is still reviewing three National Grid projects that did not get approval, including the Clifton Park pilot project.
The utility says that revenue from the sale of the electricity from the solar panels will be used to provide a monthly credit to 150 residential customers in the poor Fruit Belt neighborhood that would come out to between $17 to $20 a month. That’s about 20 percent of the typical electric bill. The average household income there is about $23,000, well below the average for the city as a whole. The neighborhood has 2,000 people on 36 blocks.
The state is moving toward a significant restructuring of how utilities operate under a program called Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV. Under REV, utilities will essentially open up the electrical networks to new technologies and potential services that are designed to reduce energy costs and pave the way for new renewable energy sources.
“Some like to pit the environment against the economy as if it’s one or the other,” said Richard Kauffman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s energy chief said Tuesday. “These demonstration projects provide another illustration of how New York is proving that premise wrong through innovative new business models that reduce carbon emissions by animating private investment in clean energy. New York is directly taking on the challenge of finding solutions to fix a costly and inefficient energy system in order to benefit consumers and protect the environment.”