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NRTHEAST UTL : Building New England's Next-Generation 'Smart Grid'

08/06/2009 | 03:40pm US/Eastern
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BERLIN, Conn., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) and its operating companies applied for federal funds to help their customers take greater control of energy usage and costs, and to experience fewer interruptions in electric service, through the implementation of smart grid technologies across Connecticut, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060728/NORTHEASTUTILOGO )

Accompanied with letters of support from the region's political and regulatory leaders and key stakeholder groups, NU's application to the U.S. Department of Energy's Smart Grid Investment Grant Program requests 50-percent funding to match the company's investment in the three-state, $253 million project.

"As a result of the knowledge we have developed through our technology and rate pilot programs, we are confident we can intelligently deploy these exciting new solutions for our customers' benefit. This will be much more than a science experiment," said James B. Robb, NU senior vice president of Enterprise Planning and Development. "We can deploy smart grid components to optimize our distribution system's operation. We will also provide enabling technologies, tested pricing options and advance the development of distributed generation and electric vehicle transportation."

In addition to providing a positive economic impact by supporting 500 jobs, this project will offer ongoing economic benefits by enabling customers to better manage their energy use and lower their bills. NU plans to use its smart grid experience and project expertise to:

    --  Provide opportunities for 200,000 customers to lower their energy usage,
        costs and environmental impacts by deploying smart meters and dynamic
        pricing programs.
    --  Provide customers with actionable, hour-by-hour information about their
        energy use to help them reduce their costs and lower their carbon
        footprint.
    --  Make outages shorter and less extensive by installing distribution
        system sensors and other equipment that can automatically detect outages
        and, in certain instances, restore power without dispatching crews.
    --  Allow more efficient integration and access to distributed generation
        options (such as solar power) with the implementation of additional
        smart grid capabilities.

    --  Promote electric transportation by enabling customers to charge an
        electric vehicle outside of their home by integrating 75 smart charging
        stations and 15 smart charging kiosks to be located in 15 public parking
        garages in local communities.

"Because of our scale and geographic reach within New England, we are in a unique position to provide leadership to, and make a difference in, the region's energy landscape," noted Robb. "More of our customers will benefit from the range of smart grid investments made to date across our three electric distribution companies, including one of the nation's largest time-of-use rate pilot programs."

As proposed, the scope of the project in each of the three states is as follows:

Connecticut: The largest investment would be made in Connecticut, where NU's operating company, The Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P), has already made investments to automate 70 percent of its distribution network, and where a smart meter pilot program is already under way. Stimulus funding would be used to:

    --  Deploy smart meters and dynamic pricing rates to approximately 200,000
        customers, including 98,000 residential and business customers in
        Hartford, Wethersfield, Greenwich and Stamford, and 102,000 larger
        customers statewide.
    --  Significantly advance the automation of CL&P's statewide
        distribution system and provide it with two-way communications
        capabilities across its entire service territory.
    --  Enable fully automated demand response management of 150 existing
        interruptible rate commercial and industrial customers to quickly shed
        115 megawatts of electric power if needed to improve reliability.

    --  In partnership with General Electric, begin installing "smart"
        appliances such as washers, dryers and refrigerators that can be
        programmed to use less energy during times of peak demand.  The
        appliances would be available beginning in 2010 and the first
        installation is slated for a 336-unit apartment complex currently under
        construction in Stamford.

Western Massachusetts: Additional work will be performed through NU subsidiary Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) to:

    --  Install advanced sensing technology on 75 percent of WMECO's
        overhead distribution system for improved outage detection.
    --  Together with a new distribution management system, enable automatic
        isolation and restoration of disruptions in electricity flows to
        minimize the extent and duration of outages.

    --  Complement a dynamic pricing pilot program to be used with future smart
        meter installations.

New Hampshire: Work performed by NU subsidiary Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) represents the preliminary steps in the development of a smart grid for the state:

    --  Up to 5,000 customers will receive smart meters, smart thermostats and
        other customer technologies to encourage energy efficiency, renewable
        energy development, weatherization and demand response.

    --  PSNH will also fully automate a 450-mile length of its distribution
        system serving 25,000 customers to enable real-time equipment monitoring
        for outage detection and restoration.

Following NU's submission of this application, its operating companies will begin the process of seeking formal approval from their respective state regulatory commissions of the specific state projects and the companies' related financial investment.

Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU), a Fortune 500 and Standard & Poor's 500 energy company based in Connecticut, operates New England's largest energy delivery system. NU is committed to safety, reliability, environmental leadership and stewardship, and expanding energy options for its more than 2 million electricity and natural gas customers. For more information on Northeast Utilities and its subsidiaries, visit the NU family of Web sites at www.nu.com.

SOURCE Northeast Utilities

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