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Nicola Medalova, National Grid

To advance the clean energy transition, National Grid plans for the Future Grid

15th September 2023 Nicola Medalova, Chief Operating Officer, National Grid New England 3 min read

The U.S. Northeast stands at a crossroads. With nation-leading climate change, clean energy, and equity goals set by states like New York and Massachusetts, we cannot wait to begin building for the future. The opportunity is now to make real, lasting change for all our customers and communities.

At National Grid, we’re prepared to do our part. 

In my state, Massachusetts, we have worked hard to maintain systemwide reliability at 99.9 percent, while enabling more clean energy through the connection of 200 megawatts of distributed energy resources in 2022 for a total of more than 2 gigawatts connected to our system. We’ve also supported the installation of 10,000 heat pumps through Mass Save, with a goal of another 21,000 by 2024, and enabled the installation of more than 1,800 electric vehicle chargers, with another 32,000 to come. 

Even still, the natural gas network carries three times as much energy at peak as the electric network, and fossil-fuel powered vehicles make up the vast majority of those on our roads. Shifting from a multi-fuel energy system to one primarily reliant on electricity to meet the Commonwealth’s net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goals by 2050 will require a major build-out of the grid.

The plan to do so must be at once comprehensive, thoughtful, and orderly if we’re going to meet the pace and scale needed to enable more electrification and move away from a fossil-based economy. To support this future, the electric grid must become fundamentally smarter, stronger, and cleaner.

Massachusetts electric distribution companies, including National Grid, recently delivered plans to transform the grid of the past into a smarter, more resilient two-way electricity superhighway that powers sustainable communities and provides all customers the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the clean energy transition.

National Grid’s Future Grid plan begins to define the scope and scale of what we collectively must do in both the short- and long-term to combat climate change and enable a more electrified future, as well as the policy and regulatory changes needed to make it happen.

We propose investing approximately $2 billion in the next five years alone in three key areas: network infrastructure like substations, poles, and wires; technology and platforms like IT systems, automation, real-time monitoring equipment, and sensors; and customer-facing programs, including those to enable more solar, efficiency, and electrified transportation and optimize their use to help meet grid and demand needs. The proposal also includes plans to expand our strategic workforce development programs, equipping more individuals with pathways to careers in clean energy.

These investments will make sure our grid is ready, reliable, and secure; that customers are able to make the clean energy choices that work for them when they want them; and that we provide opportunities to the communities we serve.

Building the Future Grid is an opportunity to provide not just environmental and customer benefits. This plan represents an investment in our economy, including more than $1.4 billion in incremental economic activity, 11,000 part- and full-time jobs, and enough system capacity to power more than 1 million electric vehicles and 750,000 heat pumps across our service area, as well as connect more solar and storage to the grid.

As we take the next steps, we will continue to engage communities to ensure the clean energy transition is supportive of and responsive to the needs and expectations of all our customers. Implementing a plan this transformative requires working together to drive economic and environmental benefits in communities that have historically been burdened and left behind, including through changes to current investment, permitting, and regulatory policies.

The Future Grid plan is designed to deliver a fair, affordable, and clean energy transition. But more than that, we aim to empower all our customers and communities throughout Massachusetts by building a smarter, stronger, cleaner, and more equitable energy future.

Nicola Medalova is the Chief Operating Officer for National Grid New England. Nation Grid is a Gold Partner at Climate Week NYC. Register virtually and join National Grid at Climate Week NYC September 17-24.