CVPS smart grid a model for other utilities


Kevin Jones,
Smart Grid
Project Leader,
South Royalton, VT, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — February 21, 2012 – With the particular circumstances in Vermont, Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) smart grid experience should be informative for other utilities and policymakers across the country, according to a new study from Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE).

These circumstances include CVPS’s project being part of a statewide effort to install smart grid technology across as much of the state as possible, and that CVPS is the largest electric utility in the state and the first with U.S. Smart Grid Investment Grant funding to begin installing smart meters.

According to the study, collaboration, clear policies and consumer outreach are the keys to the successful implementation of CVPS’s smart grid plan, with collaboration arguably its most important lesson. Collaboration has made developing and implementing CVPS SmartPower, as well as other utilities’ smart grid investments, more efficient, cost effective, and technically sound. As part of the statewide smart grid effort, CVPS has shared analysis with other utilities, like Green Mountain Power, which reduced costs in selecting AMI equipment.

With a clear record of supporting cost effective smart grid investments the state’s energy policy and regulatory agencies have also helped speed smart grid results, says the report. Since 2007, Vermont’s Legislature and Public Service Board (PSB) have been inquiring into the development of smart grid infrastructure and dynamic rate options, effectively balancing flexibility for investments in a rapidly developing field of technology with measures to ensure those investments are prudent.

Further, with its efforts at consumer outreach and consumer behavior research, CVPS is laying the groundwork for a smooth transition in its smart grid implementation. From training call center technicians to answer and properly route smart grid questions and deputizing staff members as smart grid ambassadors in their community to developing print and web-based educational materials, CVPS has moved forward quickly with efforts to educate customers.

However, one area where more work needs to be done is formalizing a customer data privacy policy. Vermont’s utilities and regulators have both expressed a strong interest in protecting the privacy of the more granular customer data that the smart meters collect. The Vermont PSB is reviewing the establishment of privacy principles. The imminent rollout of new meters makes it important to complete the development of a transparent smart grid privacy policy to clearly inform customers about their privacy rights and responsibilities.

“These results provide interesting lessons for the rest of the country,” said Kevin Jones, smart grid project leader for the IEE. “As this case study demonstrates, smart grid implementation is off to a productive start. Ongoing policy refinements, project development and infrastructure investment will be needed in order to achieve the smart grid’s full, long term potential.”

CVPS plans to upgrade its roughly 180,000 meters with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) during 2012.