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INNOVATIVE SMART PLUG TRIAL EXPANDS ACROSS COUNTY DURHAM

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Residents and community groups across County Durham are being urged to sign up to an innovative new energy project which offers financial rewards for participants who make small changes to how and when they use electricity.

Following a successful small-scale pilot in the Weardale area earlier this year, Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for delivering power safely to homes and businesses across the region, is expanding its Activating Community Engagement (ACE) smart plug project across the whole of County Durham.

The countywide trial gives those taking part a free smart plug to use with a household appliance of their choice. The gadget, which is linked to an online energy game called TheGenGame, enables participants to earn points every time their chosen appliance is in use, with bonus points awarded if they agree to have that appliance turned off occasionally during the week.

Andrew Spencer, Northern Powergrid’s Innovation Projects Manager, said: “We’re calling for community groups in County Durham to get involved in the second phase of this unique and innovative project. Whether you’re a local charity, amateur sports club or a scout troop, we’re encouraging applications from community groups of all types and sizes. To take part all you have to do is to visit our website npg-ace.com and fill in the simple application form, then recruit your supporters to sign up to TheGenGame.” All the participating community groups will earn funds from the points generated, if they are able to recruit five or more GenGame players, with the top 3 teams at the end of the competition each winning a bonus cash prize. There are also great weekly and monthly prizes for individuals to win, including high street and music vouchers.

Our initial small-scale pilot operated in the Weardale area earlier this year proved to be a great success with prize money donated to a range of different organisations. Now we’re excited to see if we can make this concept work on a larger scale.”

“The ACE project aims look at how we can reduce peak demand for electricity, which typically occurs between 4:30pm and 7:30pm when people turn on their TVs, radios, cookers and other appliances after work. The rising popularity of low carbon technologies like heat pumps and electric cars are now forecast to put increasing pressure on Britain’s electricity networks, adding to the peak demand levels.

Raising awareness of electricity use and finding ways to reduce peak demand, which is what we’re seeking to test, is incredibly important because it’s one of several solutions that could help the UK’s electricity industry manage the complexities associated with rising demand for electricity. The occasional reduction in demand at peak times, which is what we are testing with this project, is a much smarter way of meeting this low carbon future than the alternative of costly and disruptive works to replace electricity cables, overhead lines and substations.”

We’re looking at smarter solutions now to help the industry better manage demand in the future as low carbon technologies become more widespread. By applying the ACE concept across County Durham, we’ll be able to see how it works on a wider scale and that could be something that goes on to be applied across Great Britain.”

Northern Powergrid is encouraging applications from community groups in County Durham, interested groups can sign up at www.npg-ace.com.

Community groups accepted onto the trial are encouraged to sign up as many supporters as possible to play The GenGame and earn more points for their team. The next competition period starts on 30th May so the earlier you get involved the more money your community groups stands to earn.

Northern Powergrid is working closely with key local organisations in County Durham to activate the ACE project including Newcastle University and Durham County Council.

Notes to editor:

  • Image of Northern Powergrid’s Emma Burton (far right) and Staindrop Scouts Team led by Jacqui Nicholson (far left)