Founded in 1892, Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD) may be one of the oldest municipal electric utilities in the United States, but its strategy to embrace new technologies is far from dated. Because the ultimate goal of smart grid technology is to put customers first and ensure a stable supply of electricity well into the 21st century, BELD began a smart grid journey in 2010 that has challenged ageless metering processes, introduced new mechanics for revenue protection, and yielded a clear path toward quicker detection and restoration of outages.
BELD’s journey consisted of four main steps to implementing a successful smart grid solution. Based on the results of its journey, the utility gained a new appreciation for the changing dynamics of defining smart grid value and implementation strategies.
BELD started its smart metering implementation, using advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), in 2010 and completed installations in 2012. The selection and timing of AMI was a by-product of cross-utility preparation, collaboration and teamwork from the vendor community to understand both the current and modernized state of BELD. The utility’s board members had to understand the value of smart grid systems, the capabilities of BELD staff to execute selected projects, the short- and long-term goals, future systems and integration work, as well as how to connect with customers in new and exciting ways. BELD needed a plan.