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Smart Grid Demonstration Project

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NorthWestern Energy is asking some Helena residents to join others across the Pacific Northwest in studying the effectiveness of the Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Beartooth NBC's Jess Armstrong shows us how the Smart Grid works.

NorthWestern Energy has invited 200 Helena households to participate in its Smart Grid Demo Project.

We are looking for ways to help customers become more aware of their energy use to be able to monitor work with their energy usage,” says Betsy Pahut of NorthWestern Energy.

They can do that through a set of digital monitoring tools hooked up to appliances throughout a house.

"I can take a look at how much my dishwashing machine has used in the past 24 hours or my entertainment center, my TV and stereo right there," says Ryan Wilkinson, the project manager for KEMA – the contractor installing the Smart Grid Systems.

Wilkinson is also a homeowner, but he doesn't have to be home to monitor his energy usage. He can use his computer and log in to a web portal that shows him all of his appliances and how much energy they are using.

“Not only is the receiving the information and data from your meter, but now the customer is receiving that information too,” says Wilkinson. He can even control them. “I can go ahead and click on this item, hit control and it's going to ask me if I want to turn it on or off…we can say yes,” says Wilkinson.

An illuminating idea that may require a more tech savvy person, but Pahut says it's worth it.

“If we can help customers be more energy aware and to make a difference in what they're using based on behaviors and habits and awareness of what they're doing then it's all a good thing,” says Pahut.

Pahut says the smart grid project is being funded by stimulus dollars to test overall effectiveness and cost-savings. She says the monitoring system and installation is completely free to qualifying customers right now.

To request more information or to see if you qualify, click here.

The data collected by NorthWestern is only shared between the utilities – customers do remain anonymous. 


Story by Jess Armstrong, Beartooth NBC.
Copyright ©2011 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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