What They Do
Copper delivers real-time, grid-edge usage and voltage data to utilities, device vendors and network operators, accelerating the energy transition.
The company’s patented solutions empower its customers to make smarter grid decisions across electric, gas and water infrastructure, providing more personalized services and orchestrating load flexibility when it matters most.
What We Do
National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations to keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry.
As the corporate investment and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, NGP is helping drive the transition to a more digitized, smarter, and renewable energy system. NGP does so by investing and collaborating at the intersection of emerging technology and energy, with companies such as Copper Labs.
Use Case – Energy Management
In late January 2022, the East Coast battened down the hatches to weather one of the worst blizzards in years. Known as a bomb cyclone, the storm brought piles of snow, roaring winds and plummeting temperatures.
Faced with some of the harshest weather conditions, increasing demand for heat and an inability to quickly build out infrastructure, National Grid was looking for ‘non-pipes alternatives’ that would allow the utility to continue to serve its customers while avoiding system disruptions.
Like most of its peers, National Grid could only access gas usage data from drive-by meters every 30 days, missing the critical real-time insights required to understand customer behavior and gas consumption patterns.
To solve this problem, National Grid tapped into Copper Labs to manage energy use during the peak of the storm. Copper provided near real-time usage data from approximately 300 existing AMR gas meters without requiring extensive infrastructure upgrades.
Together, National Grid and Copper Labs created a demand response event that covered a four-hour peak demand time from 6 to 10 a.m. during the height of the blizzard. An in-home device let National Grid observe customer loads and send targeted smartphone messages to enrolled customers. These notifications encourage customers to modify their behavior – turning their heat down a few degrees, for instance, or postponing a hot shower to conserve natural gas during the storm.
When the snow finally settled, customers who received the natural gas demand response messaging had cut consumption 18% compared to other customers in the area, according to a Copper Labs analysis. The pilot demonstrated how real-time usage data could make a significant difference for utilities.
“Unlocking near real-time usage data for our gas consumers has created new opportunities to reduce peak demand when it matters most to our gas distribution system” said John Rei, Director of Distributed Resources at National Grid. “With Copper Labs’ technology, we have a new channel to engage targeted consumers with actionable insights that help them reduce energy costs.”
Toward Brighter Futures
Leveraging existing broadband networks and meters, Copper Labs will continue deploying outdoor devices that unlock near real-time data from hundreds of meters, so utilities can optimize load management and more efficiently modernize legacy grids.
To date, Copper Labs has done this only at the household level, where consumers connect an in-home device via Wi-Fi and receive personalized insights via the Copper smartphone app.
Copper’s next innovation is partnering with utilities and network operators, both wireline and wireless, to scale its technology to the neighborhood level.
Copper’s CEO, Dan Forman, said: “Working with National Grid to prove the value of Copper’s offerings has dramatically accelerated our progress, based on the iterative feedback and development that comes from real partnership with one of the largest energy companies in the world. Without the valuable ongoing feedback from the National Grid team, the new neighborhood-level version of the Copper product would still be in the R&D phase instead of now being a commercially available offering.”