Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the electricity industry have jointly invested over $7.9 billion in 99 cost-shared Smart Grid Investment Grant projects to modernize the electric grid, strengthen cybersecurity, improve interoperability, and collect an unprecedented level of data on improvements in grid operations and customer services. Central Maine Power’s (CMP) smart grid project has produced advancements in customer services, improvements in meter operations, and lesson-learned that will be used for guiding future smart grid projects. Because of the positive results so far, CMP is planning follow-on smart grid investments.
The benefits from advancements in customer services include a novel energy education program for 7th and 8th graders in Maine and benefits from operational improvements include annual savings of $6.7 million from 121,000 fewer truck rolls and emissions reductions from 1.4 million fewer annual vehicle miles traveled. Lessons learned from project implementation include needs for continual and effective communications with customers about smart meters and how the meters can be used to save money, comprehensive tests of equipment and systems to mitigate systems integration and operational problems, and use of management systems for effective vendor and process oversight. Plans for follow-on smart grid investments by CMP include distribution automation to improve reliability and resiliency and time-based rates for expanding customer choices and reducing peak demands.