National Grid recently received the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ approval to begin a two year comprehensive smart grid pilot. An important element of the pilot is the company’s focus on customer outreach and education. Cited as its “listen, test, and learn” approach, National Grid will use a variety of different communication channels, both traditional and community-based, to attempt to elicit customer behavior changes and gain valuable insights regarding options for larger deployment of smart grid tools and technologies.

A noted feature of the outreach plan will be a Sustainability Hub located near Clark University.

Leveraging college student interns through the co-op program and partnerships with vendors and community stakeholders, the Sustainability Hub will provide hands-on community access to smart grid technology and information regarding pricing structures offered in the pilot.

National Grid intends to evaluate:

  1. the effects of each media channel, such as print, web, mobile, electronic, social, and broadcast media;
  2. the number of attempts to reach each customer;
  3. the timing of messaging;
  4. the effects of targeted messaging (e.g., environmental, cost consciousness);
  5. the effect of messaging through in-home devices;
  6. customer satisfaction, interest, and behavior; and
  7. the effectiveness of the critical peak event notices.

In approving the plan, the MDPU found a two-year pilot could help access “customer fatigue” and allow for more robust results and analysis, as well as provide useful insight to help inform future smart grid development.