NSTAR’s Smart Grid pilot program has gained approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and will soon begin enrolling in the program customers interested in tracking and reducing their energy. Tendril will work with NSTAR to leverage its existing automated meter reading infrastructure to offer near-time energy information and management to 2800 customers.

NSTAR and Tendril will build a framework for demand response and direct load control programs to manage residential energy demand, and to implement time-of-use, critical peak and other dynamic pricing programs. Selected homes in Newton, Hopkinton and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, will be provided energy usage information via the Tendril Insight in-home-display (IHD) and Tendril Vantage web portal.

Together with NSTAR’s automated meter reading equipment, the Tendril platform will allow NSTAR to offer dynamic pricing to customers that can help them save energy and money. For example, at times when usage on the electric grid is high, the communications system can notify customers of incentives available to those willing to lower their energy usage by having the customer temporarily shut off non-essential electric appliances such as lamps or fans. Some customers will also be offered new smart thermostats that would automatically change the temperature in their homes depending on conditions in the company’s electric system. Customers will also be able to track their daily energy usage and cost, compare it against the previous day’s use, and estimate their future bill.

The $16 million pilot program was developed in response to the Massachusetts Green Communities Act and is partially funded through a federal stimulus grant from the Department of Energy. NSTAR will begin enrolling qualifying customers in the coming months with the program running through 2012.