Energy Efficiency

MMWEC expands residential demand management program to include thermostats

Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), the joint action agency for municipal utilities in Massachusetts, is expanding its residential demand management program, “Connected Homes.” Beginning this month, select wifi thermostats have been added to the program for all participating municipal light plants (MLPs).

Connected Homes allows residential customers to better manage wifi-connected devices in their homes while reducing their carbon footprint.

Connected Homes, launched in April 2020 with 11 MLPs, is offered through MMWEC’s residential energy conservation service, the Home Energy Loss Prevention Services (HELPS) program.

HELPS is working with the company Virtual Peaker, a software platform, to allow customers of the participating MLPs to leverage the technology of smart appliances and devices into energy and cost savings for the light department and its customers, MMWEC noted.

By enrolling a smart device in the Connected Homes program, customers agree to allow their light department to make brief, limited adjustments to their devices during times of peak electric demand, such as temporarily reducing the charging rate of an electric vehicle during peak hours. Customers will be informed of possible adjustments in advance via email and given the choice to opt out of each adjustment. Customers who participate are given a stipend or bill credit.

Starting in December, select wifi thermostats have been added to the program for all participating MLPs.

Other devices already in the program are home batteries, electric vehicle chargers, electric hot water heaters and mini-split controllers. Devices and incentive amounts may vary by MLP.

In addition, two additional MLPs have signed on to participate, bringing the total number of participating utilities to 13.

Beginning January 1, the municipal utilities in Belmont and Shrewsbury join those in the communities of Groton, Holden, Holyoke, Ipswich, Mansfield, Marblehead, Princeton, South Hadley, Sterling, Wakefield and West Boylston.

“Through participation in Connected Homes, the growing number of customers moving toward electrification can easily and conveniently manage their home’s energy use, by adjusting the device’s energy usage remotely, or by setting an automatic schedule,” MMWEC said in a Dec. 14 news release.

MMWEC is a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, created by an Act of the General Assembly in 1975 and authorized to issue debt to finance a wide range of energy facilities.

MMWEC provides a variety of power supply, financial, risk management and other services to the state’s consumer-owned municipal utilities. It has 20 municipal utility members and 28 project participants.