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Shrewsbury pilots energy efficiency program

By Joan Goodchild Community Reporter

August 6, 2010

Shrewsbury - Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations (SELCO), the municipal power company that operates in town, is taking part in a pilot energy efficiency program that gives participants the ability to monitor their energy use and make adjustments in order to conserve electricity and save money.

According to information on the town website, the program combines real-time energy use data with an online web tool where residents can monitor their energy use and get feedback on ways to reduce power consumption. Shrewsbury is the seventh municipal electric company in Massachusetts to take part in the program, known as GroundedPower’s Interactive Customer Engagement System (ices). The SELCO pilot program includes 50 residential and municipal buildings, including two schools, and will run for one year. There is the potential for a larger rollout to additional customers if initial results are positive, according to town officials.

“The goal of the project is to determine whether energy efficiency can be enhanced through the use of a system that combines real-time energy monitoring with customer engagement and online tools,” according to the website.

Residents were asked to apply to be part of the pilot. Those who were selected and enrolled now have access to tools, such as a monitor installed in the home that communicates with the participant’s computer. The tools provide a minute-by-minute look at energy use so they can see how they are using energy and which appliances or devices cause the biggest energy drain. The online interface also includes a social media component, which allows people to interact with each other, exchange ideas, and obtain feedback from one another.

Town officials said other utilities working with GroundedPower have seen participants cut their electricity use by nearly 10 percent and have expressed high levels of satisfaction with the technology.

“We chose Grounded- Power because they have done the research and analysis to understand the behavioral drivers behind energy efficiency, as well as the potential savings that result from permanent behavior changes,” said Thomas R. Josie, general manager of SELCO.