National Grid ConnectedSolutions program - save money with a solar battery

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Our world is increasingly reliant on electricity. One unfortunate side effect is that everyone wants to use power simultaneously on days of extreme weather. As peak electricity demand soars on the hottest (and coldest) days of the year, the companies that run the electric grid can respond in one of two ways: rapidly ramp up fossil fuel generators to meet demand or make sure that demand doesn’t get too high in the first place.

Given that the world needs fewer greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, the second option is the better solution. The best way to manage demand is to get a significant number of people to avoid using a lot of grid power at peak times, but asking nicely doesn’t usually work that well.

That’s why National Grid offers the ConnectedSolutions program, under which customers with smart appliances like thermostats, home solar batteries, and electric vehicles can get paid for allowing the utility to control their devices during periods of very high demand.

That’s right; you can get paid for helping National Grid do the right thing for its customers and the environment. Here’s everything you need to know about the ConnectedSolutions program, including whether or not you should take advantage of it.

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Key takeaways

  • The ConnectedSolutions program gives National Grid customers in Massachusetts and parts of New York the opportunity to save money on their utility bills by reducing their grid usage during “peak time events”.
  • Residential and small business customers in Massachusetts can sign up for the program’s smart thermostat, small-scale battery, and/or electric vehicle incentives. New York customers can only sign up for the thermostat incentive.
  • A peak time event can happen on any day when demand on the grid is very high, and National Grid says it will call an event up to 60 times during the year for each customer group.
  • Before and during a peak time event, National Grid will control its customers’ smart home appliances for up to 3 hours to reduce strain on the grid.
  • Depending on the number of smart devices enrolled in the program, customers can earn a minimum of $20 per year in the thermostat program and up to hundreds or thousands of dollars in the battery program.
  • Eversource also offers a ConnectedSolutions program to customers in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

On this page

    What is the ConnectedSolutions program?

    ConnectedSolutions is a program designed to offer payments to owners of smart appliances who allow National Grid to remotely control those devices during the times of highest demand on the grid. The program is available to National Grid customers in Massachusetts and New York.

    The devices allowed to participate in the program include smart thermostats, home solar batteries, and electric vehicle chargers.

    Why is National Grid offering this?

    Wholesale energy markets work on the concept of supply and demand just like the rest of our economy. When power is in very high demand (such as during a heatwave when everyone wants to use air conditioning at once), real-time energy prices can get very expensive.

    In addition to the problem of cost, getting power quickly also affects the environment. The fastest way for National Grid to get more power on a short time horizon is to pay operators of so-called “peaker” power plants that burn gas and can start up quickly. These plants are much less efficient than other power plants and add a lot of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

    A much better solution is to find a way to reduce spikes in energy demand by managing the number of customers drawing power at the same time. One solution is called “demand response,” which means addressing demand on the grid by having some customers reduce their needs. Another solution is a “virtual power plant,” a distributed network of batteries that can be activated at a moment’s notice to respond to spikes in demand.

    ConnectedSolutions is both a virtual power plant and a demand response program. Instead of paying very high prices to operators of dirty fossil fuel power plants, National Grid can pay its customers to reduce their energy use or serve power to the grid from their batteries. But they don’t do it by asking people to turn down their air conditioners. Instead, with a customer’s permission, the utility can take control of internet-connected thermostats, batteries, and EV chargers for a short period.

    This solution reduces demand on the grid, saves everyone money, decreases greenhouse gas emissions, and prevents power outages caused by inadequate energy supply. The customers enrolled in the ConnectedSolutions program give up a little bit of control for a short time in order to help everyone.

    It’s a remarkably easy and effective way to be altruistic, but it can also net you some cash. Here’s more on how it works:

    How the program works

    Customers of National Grid can sign up for the ConnectedSolutions program that corresponds with the area in which they take service and the technology they want to enroll. Natural gas customers in New York City and Long Island and electric customers in Upstate NY can only sign up for the thermostat program. Those in Massachusetts can take advantage of all three programs listed below.

    ConnectedSolutions for batteries

    The ConnectedSolutions battery program offers homeowners the best way to get paid for doing their part in reducing grid congestion. Unlike thermostats, which control intermittently used appliances, batteries can be set to discharge a portion of their energy in a steady stream, providing much-needed certainty to grid operators.

    Also, unlike thermostats, battery owners will barely notice any change when National Grid activates their battery—the battery just discharges some of its capacity to your home or the grid (or both), and you get paid. Each summer season will see between 30 and 60 events on the hottest days. The events will occur between 2 PM and 7 PM on weekdays, during which National Grid will activate customer batteries for up to 3 hours.

    Your incentive payment depends on the average rate of discharge of your energy storage system during the entire season of park time events. The payment is currently set at $275 per kilowatt (kW), so a battery like the Tesla Powerwall can earn you $1,375 per year if it discharges at an average rate of 5 kW during all annual events.

    That $275/kW rate is locked in for five years after battery installation, guaranteeing at least that long for incentive payments. Using our example of a Tesla Powerwall that discharges at an average of 5 kW, the total incentive payments over five years would be $6,875, which is more than half the cost of the battery. At the end of the five-year term, you can re-enroll in the program at the available incentive rate (if any).

    Enrollment in the program is tied to the type of inverter used in your installation, and each inverter manufacturer has its own special sign-up page for participants to go through. Here are the links for the manufacturers of approved inverters:

    In the case of a forecasted extreme weather event, National Grid will not call a peak time event. Instead, it will allow its customers’ batteries to retain up to their full capacity to respond to any potential power outages. Considering that responding to power outages is one of the main reasons to get a battery, this can give you peace of mind.

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    ConnectedSolutions for thermostats

    The ConnectedSolutions thermostat program allows you to enroll and earn annual payments based on your participation in several annual “peak events.” During these events, National Grid will remotely control your thermostat by adjusting the temperature by a few degrees to reduce your energy consumption.

    This might mean you’ll feel a little colder or warmer than you’d prefer on days of the most extreme weather, but keep in mind that you’ll be helping all your neighbors enjoy lower bills and cleaner air, thanks to your participation.

    In New York City and Long Island, the program operates during the winter months, and the enrolled thermostats must be connected to your natural gas furnace. The company estimates there will be between 2 and 5 events on the year's coldest days. The utility will control the thermostat on these winter days, either during the morning or evening hours when most people are home and cranking the heat. 

    Eligible thermostats for this program come from these companies:

    • Sensi (Emerson)
    • Honeywell (including Lyric)
    • Lux
    • Radio Thermostat
    • Nest

    In Upstate New York and all of Massachusetts, the program operates during the summer months, and the enrolled thermostats must be connected to your air conditioning system. The company estimates that there will be between 10 and 15 events during the summer on the hottest days of the year. The thermostat will be controlled on these days for 3 hours, sometime from 2 PM to 7 PM.

    National Grid says it will “pre-cool” your home on event days so that when usage of the grid is at its highest point, it can turn your cooling set point up a few degrees and reduce your need for grid energy during the critical evening peak demand period.

    Thermostats that qualify for the Upstate NY and MA program come from these companies:

    • Building36
    • ecobee
    • Emerson
    • Honeywell Home (including Lyric)
    • Lux
    • Nest
    • Radio Thermostat
    • vivint.SmartHome

    No matter where you’re located, you can opt-out of an event by manually setting your thermostat to a different temperature. So don’t worry about being unsafe during a peak event. You can take control if you need to. Just be aware that if you regularly opt out of events, the company retains the right to unenroll you in the program for the next year. You don’t want that because being in the program is how you get paid!

    Speaking of getting paid, you get an instant payment just for signing up for the program and another payment each year after the peak time season for your area has ended. Here’s how that works:

    Service area Season Incentive payment Sign up link
    Massachusetts Jun-Sep $25 instant and $20 annually Sign up
    Upstate NY May-Sep $30 instant and $20 annually Sign up
    NYC/Long Island Nov-Mar $25 instant and $25 annually Sign up

    More information on the program can be found at National Grid’s website.

    ConnectedSolutions for EV charging

    Compared to the thermostat and battery programs, the ConnectedSolutions EV incentive is very straightforward. National Grid customers can get $50 for enrolling and $20 per year after that for allowing the utility company to pause EV charging between 2 PM and 7 PM during certain summer days.

    There will be up to 40 of these events per year, and it’s possible to opt-out of an event if you really need to charge your car during the period of deactivation. Also, you still get the incentive payment even if you never have your car charging during the events.

    Cars from the following companies are eligible:

    Enrollment is not currently available for Nissan and other manufacturers not listed above. You can sign up to get updates about eligibility on the National Grid website.

    Bottom line: Is the ConnectedSolutions program a good deal for you?

    If you’re interested in making a little extra money to help National Grid protect the environment and strain on the grid, ConnectedSolutions is a great program. On top of that, the program can help reduce your electricity use and therefore lower your energy costs.

    The thermostat and EV programs offer rewards with basically no risk because you can opt-out of events if you truly need to. The battery program is a slam dunk if you want to greatly offset some of the cost of the battery while retaining the ability to charge it up for possible power outages due to inclement weather. Reminder: when you install a battery, you’re also eligible for the federal clean energy tax credit, which earns you 30% of the costs to install the battery.

    You may not earn thousands of dollars per year from ConnectedSolutions, but then again, you could. If you’re a National Grid customer considering a battery storage system, speak with a few expert solar and storage installers to get quotes and determine your potential incentives.

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     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Ben Zientara

    Solar Policy Analyst and Researcher

    Ben is a writer, researcher, and data analysis expert who has worked for clients in the sustainability, public administration, and clean energy sectors.

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