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NHEC to Participate in Connected Community Grant

PLYMOUTH, NH – (December 2, 2021) New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) will be getting hands-on experience in “transactive energy” as part of a project aimed at meeting the future energy needs of rural and urban communities across the U.S.

NHEC will participate in a Connected Community grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and will collaborate with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Efficiency Maine, Knowledge Problem LLC and the Post Road Foundation to see how smart grid technology, enabled by high-speed internet, can improve the efficiency and reliability of regional and national power grids.

The five-year project will help demonstrate how transactive energy can:

  • facilitate more effective use of electricity distribution systems through load flexibility, with applications such as peak management;
  • reveal the financial value of Distributed Energy Resource (DER) deployment on the distribution system, which can provide revenue to motivate the installation of DER and other efficiency measures; and
  • lower financial and engineering hurdles to beneficial electrification — replacing fossil-fuel-powered heating and transportation with lower cost heat-pumps and electric vehicles.

Brian Callnan, NHEC’s Vice President of Power Supply & Resources, said the project will help NHEC learn how to use its existing smart grid technology and its growing high-speed internet network to develop new relationships between the utility and its members.

“In the traditional utility business model, the utility sets the price of the product once or twice a year,” Callnan said. “In a transactive energy business model, price signals are published the day before, allowing a member to decide how and when to use the utility’s services.  NHEC doesn’t control a thing, our members control the transaction. A member may choose to reduce energy if they see really high prices or even export energy to the utility for payment with a home-based or electric vehicle battery.  We’re trying to use the Co-op’s distribution system to give our members more control, while recognizing the value of their energy investments and compensating them for that value.”

NHEC’s involvement in the Connected Community project will also provide an opportunity to improve the reliability of the NHEC electrical distribution system. NHEC has been investing for years in a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that provides information about the performance of the Co-op’s electrical distribution system. Working with other partners in the Connected Community project, NHEC will be able to use that information to identify potential constraints on the system and mitigate problems before they occur. This will also allow NHEC to make it easier for members to site solar, batteries and other energy resources on its system.

“One of the biggest advantages of the Connected Community project is the access NHEC will have to forward-thinking people and organizations working on these cutting-edge utility issues,” Callnan added. “The Co-op has made a lot of technology investments over time and the relationships we will build as part of this project will allow us to maximize the potential of those investments for our members.”