Twenty-three electric cooperatives participated in NRECA’s $68 million Smart Grid Demonstration Project (SGDP), half of which was funded by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) stimulus grant. The grant cycle is ending, but for the participants, the journey continues. Research results will aid electric co-ops’ smart grid planning and decision making, and new strategic initiatives have been spawned in the areas of cybersecurity and economic cost/benefit modeling.
Reports and Articles
Sharing information about the experiences and outcomes of the Smart Grid Demonstration Project is critical in CRN’s view, in order to convey the groundbreaking effort by the participants as well as to support the benefits of learning by other cooperatives and the industry as a whole. In November 2013, CRN produced the first detailed reports on the SGDP for DOE. As further demonstration results became available, CRN produced a second edition to these reports, issued to DOE in May 2014. CRN has also produced a series of TechSurveillance articles to assist in the dissemination of the information on the SGDP. These articles are high level, and intended to give co-op CEOs and other decision-makers an overview of the main events and lessons learned from each aspect of the Demonstration.
Below are the CRN SGDP reports and articles:
Managing Technology Change to Gain Customer Acceptance
Communicators’ Toolkit for a Smart Meter Roll-Out
Electric cooperatives that deployed new, consumer-facing technologies such as smart meters as part of NRECA’s nationwide Smart Grid Demonstration Project (SGDP) found that to realize full value from the investment, communications about the new technology with members and stakeholders must be carefully managed. These experiences brought the risks and challenges of technology change into sharp focus and also crystalized some successful approaches that have wide applicability across the electric co-op community. Strategic communications planning can promote member acceptance and ultimate project success. Maximizing the benefits of Smart Grid technologies–demand response, time-of-use rates, critical peak pricing, prepayment programs and energy management tools–-for both co-op and members requires proactive communication. The good news is that CRN now offers an online repository containing best practices, communication templates and other tools gleaned from SGDP experiences. This Communicators’ Toolkit can spare electric cooperatives from “re-inventing the wheel” when it comes to engaging members and gaining buy-in for technology change. In short, the Communicators’ Toolkit will help an electric co-op build the level of member trust necessary for its deployment to go smoothly and its technology investment to pay off.