Mass. approves almost half a billion dollar investment in electric grid


“Self-healing” technology is part of the collective effort of Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil.

National Grid’s landmark rainbow gas tank in Dorchester. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

A new wave of modernizations to the Commonwealth’s electric grid is coming, following the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ approval of a $450 million investment in this grid earlier this week. 

The investment, approved through a Department of Public Utilities, or DPU, order Oct. 7, is a joint venture between Eversource, National Grid and Unitil.

The changes will be rolled out over four years and, according to the DPU, will “expand the deployment of grid monitoring technologies, advanced communication technologies, and automation technologies” to modernize the system and allow for more “self‑healing to enhance safety and reliability.”

“The investments authorized by this Department of Public Utilities Order will not only enhance the resiliency of Massachusetts’ electric grid, but will also maximize benefits for ratepayers across the state,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card said in a release.

Each company proposed its own modernization plan, with National Grid’s plan having the largest dollar total, coming in at a budget cap of $300.8 million. Next largest is Eversources’ plan, ringing up at $162.6 million. Unitil, the smallest of the three companies, also has the smallest investment, with the total coming to $9.07 million.

Residents of the Commonwealth have already started hearing about the increased electric bills they may be in for this winter, and this order detailed what each company predicts will happen as a result of this investment. 

For Eversource, the estimated increase is $0.54 or 0.4% per month. National Grid estimates increase between 0.8% and 2% based on the exact amount of actual investments. And last, Unitil estimates an increase of $0.67 per month or 0.4% per month.

The DPU requires the electric companies to develop these plans to accelerate upgrades to the system. The first modernization plans were approved in May 2018 and included investments and projects through 2021, according to the DPU release. 

“Today’s DPU Order is another great example of efforts to accelerate the continued modernization of the Commonwealth’s electric power system, improve safety and reliability for customers, harden the state’s electric infrastructure, and advance the development of sustainable, efficient clean energy technologies,” Matt Nelson, the DPU chair, said in a release. “Importantly, this new term of grid modernization investments will keep the Commonwealth on course to achieve our clean energy and climate goals.”

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