by Katherine Tweed
October 13, 2016

National Grid was able to triple the energy efficiency it could squeeze out of ecobee thermostats on its network this summer by harnassing the power of big weather data and analytics from WeatherBug Home.

The project, however, was not the first iteration of the demonstration project that is part of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative. Instead, it was a new platform in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that the utility will be rolling out in New York in 2017.

“As we get into a more connected world, environmental data becomes critical,” David Oberholzer, VP of business and partner development at WeatherBug Home, said during the REV Future 2016 conference in Brooklyn.

During a case study presentation, Oberholzer noted that there are about 2,000 National Weather Service stations across the U.S., while WeatherBug has 10,000 stations that are collecting data in 2.5-second increments. That allows the company to provide a much more detailed analysis of how weather is driving energy use in homes, especially when paired with data from connected thermostats or hot water heaters.

The theme of leveraging massive amounts of data was common throughout case studies presented during the conference. Energy storage startup Green Charge Networks spoke of its optimization algorithm used to deliver multiple services to the grid from various energy storage systems, while Silver Spring Networks and Con Edison spoke about an open-standards, real-time smart meter network the utility will soon be deploying.

But the pivot toward leveraging big data for a more efficient grid and better interactions with customers is not unique to New York, nor is it clear yet if REV is driving innovation faster than the pace at which utilities are innovating in other states.

For example, while the collaborative REV demo being carried out by National Grid and WeatherBug was the reason WeatherBug presented at the conference, the results that were discussed came from the utility’s efforts in other places. The first year of the Connected Home program in Massachusetts and Rhode Island showed that the ecobee thermostats alone saved about 5 percent, but WeatherBug Home drove another 11 percent savings.

REV demonstration projects have been slow to get off the ground, but investments in data analytics, such as National Grid is doing with WeatherBug, will have to become commonplace if New York’s vision of markets at the distribution level will ever become a reality. Check out the video below to see what WeatherBug expects to bring to New York in 2017.

Note: Video of the WeatherBug case study is below (minus the first two minutes). If you'd like to see the full video, a version that retains the first two minutes can be seen here.