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Trial customer updates

    • Customer update, May 2015

      Our £9 million CLASS project, funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, is trialling a range of innovative techniques to manage electricity consumption by controlling voltage. 

      Our CLASS trials started in April last year and are now complete. In this final update to our customers, we would like to thank those of you who took part in our customer surveys and for your interest in our project. 

      CLASS project update

      The CLASS circuits serve 485,000 of our customers in the North West. Since the project went live in spring 2014 we have completed four sets of trials and customers surveys. These trials were carried out at different times of the day and at different times of the year, with different groups of customers to gain a balanced view of our customers’ perception of their electricity supply both during and outside test periods.

      By carrying out these trials and surveys, our aim was to show that CLASS has no adverse effects on our customers’ electricity supply and that using these techniques will therefore enable us to make maximum use of our existing network. This will reduce carbon emissions and help reduce costs to customers.

      The CLASS technology installed on the network has enabled us to gather a huge amount of data which is being analysed by our academic partners at the University of Manchester.

      Technical trials

      The CLASS solution is made up of inter-connected technologies. This equipment is installed in our control room, in National Grid’s control room and on the regional electricity network. 

      Our network management system is linked with National Grid’s system so that data and voltage control instructions can be exchanged in real time between the two control centres. This is the first link of its kind in Great Britain. During the trials we have carried out a number of successful voltage reduction trials with National Grid using this technology.

      The trials have proved that the technology required to support CLASS is available and can be installed in a range of new and existing sites. We have also identified a number of technical improvements that can be made to make a GB rollout simpler and more cost effective. 

      Customer survey update

      Following each set of trials we have carried out surveys with some of our customers to understand if they have noticed any changes to their electricity supply. We have now completed all four seasonal phases of customer surveys.

      During the surveys we asked customers on the trial circuits if they had noticed any changes in their power quality and if this affected their perception of their electricity service. The results for each phase of surveys were then compared to the corresponding results from our baseline survey which was carried out in May 2014 before the trials started.

      The good news is that there has been no statistically significant change in the proportion of customers noticing a difference in the quality of their electricity supply. Neither have we received any supply quality complaints from customers found to be directly linked to the trials.

      The findings from the customer surveys have successfully proved that CLASS does not affect customers’ perception of their electricity service and, subject to analysis of additional data, could be rolled out to electricity customers nationwide.

      Customer survey key facts

      • We recruited 696 CLASS customers to take part in our surveys: 496 domestic and 200 industrial and commercial (I&C) which is a statistically robust and representative sample.
      • Customer surveys completed:
        • Baseline = 696 (496 domestic, 200 I&C)
        • Summer = 184 (142 domestic, 42 I&C)
        • Autumn = 231 (158 domestic, 73 I&C)
        • Winter = 735 (566 domestic, 173 I&C)
        • Spring = 184 (113 domestic, 71 I&C)
        • Overall, 98% of customers who took part in the four seasonal surveys were satisfied with their electricity supply.

      What’s next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Working with our academic partners to complete and summarise the analysis of the data generated from the CLASS trials
      • Developing a comprehensive closedown report to share with our regulator Ofgem and other industry stakeholders
      • Sharing the findings of the CLASS project with colleagues and industry stakeholders at learning events and on our website.

      Find out more

      • We have set up a dedicated page on our website which provides information on our trial surveys, frequently asked questions and details of how to contact us. If you have any ideas on how we could improve this page, please contact us
      • You can also visit our website to see our latest video featuring some of our customers discussing their involvement in CLASS
      • If you have a voltage or power quality query please phone us on 0800 195 4141
      • If you have a general enquiry about the CLASS project: email us or contact us through our website
      • You can also text your question to 87070 - start your message with CLASS followed by your name. All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate.
      • We have sent you this email because you registered to take part in the CLASS surveys. If you would like to unsubscribe from our e-mail update, click here
    • Customer update, February 2015

      CLASS is a £9 million project, funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund which will run until September 2015. As part of the CLASS project we are trialling a range of innovative techniques to manage electricity consumption by controlling voltage.

      Our CLASS trials started in April last year. In this latest update to our customers, we focus on the progress of the trials and our customer surveys.

      CLASS project update

      Since the CLASS technology went live in spring 2014, we have carried out a number of trials on the CLASS circuits which serve 485,000 of our customers in the North West.

      By carrying out these trials and surveying our customers after the trials we are aiming to show that CLASS has no adverse effects on our customers’ electricity supply and that using these techniques will therefore enable us to make maximum use of our existing network. This will reduce costs and carbon emissions and provide a number of other benefits.

      We are carrying out the trials at different times of the day and at different times of the year, with different groups of customers. So far, we have completed three sets of trials.

      The trials are proceeding as planned. The CLASS technology installed on the network has performed as expected and has enabled us to gather a large amount of network data which is being analysed by our academic partners at the University of Manchester.

      Technical trials

      The CLASS technological solution is a suite of inter-connected technologies, some of which are installed in our control room, some in National Grid’s control room and others are installed out on Electricity North West’s network.

      Our network management system is linked with National Grid’s system so that data and voltage control instructions can be exchanged in real time between the two control centres. This is the first link of its kind in Great Britain. We have already carried out a number of successful voltage reduction trials with National Grid using this technology.

      Customer survey update

      We are carrying out surveys in parallel with the trials to understand if our customers notice any changes to their electricity supply. The findings from the customer surveys and the network data analysis will determine whether CLASS has been successful and if it can be rolled out to electricity customers nationwide.

      We have now completed three waves of customer surveys to correspond with the first three sets of trials. During the surveys we ask customers on the trial circuits if they have noticed any changes in their power quality and if this has affected their perception of their electricity service. The results for each wave of surveys are compared to the corresponding results from our baseline survey which was carried out in May 2014 before the trials started.

      So far there has been no statistically significant change in the proportion of customers noticing a difference in the quality of their electricity supply or the performance of appliances. Neither have we received any complaints relating to the trials from customers, which is great news for CLASS. We will have the full picture when all the trials and surveys have been completed later this year.

      Customer survey key facts

      • We recruited 696 CLASS customers to take part in our surveys: 496 domestic and 200 industrial and commercial (I&C) which is a statistically robust and representative sample
      • Customer surveys completed:
        • Baseline = 696 (496 domestic, 200 I&C).
        • Summer = 184 (142 domestic, 42 I&C).
        • Autumn = 231 (158 domestic, 73 I&C).
        • Winter (interim) = 507 (387 domestic, 120 I&C).
      • In our latest survey, 98% of customers surveyed were satisfied with their electricity supply.

      What’s next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Continuing with the trials (our final trials will be carried out in spring 2015).
      • Continuing to keep you informed on our progress.
      • Our next webinar takes place in March 2015.

      Find out more

      • We have set up a dedicated page on our website which provides information on our trial surveys, frequently asked questions and details of how to contact us. If you have any ideas on how we could improve this page, please contact us
      • You can also visit our website to see our latest video featuring some of our customers discussing their involvement in CLASS
      • If you have a voltage or power quality query please phone us on 0800 195 4141
      • If you have a general enquiry about the CLASS project: email us or contact us through our website
      • You can also text your question to 87070 - start your message with CLASS followed by your name. All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate.
      • We have sent you this email because you registered to take part in the CLASS surveys. If you would like to unsubscribe from our e-mail update, click here
      • Our next customer update will be issued in May 2015
    • Customer update, November 2014

      CLASS is a £9 million project, funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund which will run until September 2015. As part of the CLASS project we are trialling a range of innovative techniques to manage electricity consumption by controlling voltage.

      Our CLASS trials started earlier this year. In this third update to our customers, we tell you about our progress on the trials and our customer surveys. 

      CLASS solution live

      Early in spring 2014, we achieved a major milestone for the project when we completed testing and went ‘live’ with the CLASS technological solution. This is a suite of inter-connected technologies, some of which are installed on the electricity network, some in our control room and some in National Grid’s control room.

      Designing, developing and commissioning these technologies has been one of the biggest challenges for the project to date. However, the significant learning that we gain will help with the rollout of CLASS nationally, if the trials prove successful.

      CLASS trials update

      We believe that the innovative CLASS solution can enable us to make maximum use of our existing network. This will reduce costs and carbon emissions and provide a number of other benefits.

      To demonstrate this, we are carrying out a variety of CLASS trials of at different times of the day, with different groups of customers and at different times of the year. To date, we have completed two sets of seasonal surveys. The first in spring 2014, and more recently, the summer trials which we completed in early September 2014.

      Both set of trials proceeded as planned. The CLASS technologies performed as we expected and provided a vast array of network data which we have passed to the University of Manchester for analysis.

      At the same time as the trials we carried out customer surveys to understand if our customers noticed any changes to their electricity supply.

      The findings from the customer surveys and the network data analysis will determine whether CLASS has been successful, and therefore whether it can be rolled out nationwide.

      Customer survey update

      The results of our first wave of customer surveys are now available. We surveyed 184 of our customers over the summer to find out if they observed any changes in power quality and if this affected their perception of their electricity service. The results were compared to the results from our baseline survey which was carried out in May 2014.

      So far there has been no statistically significant change in the proportion of customers noticing a difference in the performance of their appliances.

      As part of the monitoring survey we used a test/control methodology to ensure there was no inflated reporting of changes as a result of being part of our CLASS trial panel. There were no significant differences between the test and control groups, reinforcing the fact that the CLASS trials have not adversely changed perceptions of power quality.

      As a further test, half of the control sample were notified about the tests in advance, while half were not, to see if those notified were sensitised to any changes. Again, there were no statistically significant differences between those notified and those not.

      The fact that the initial surveys are showing that customers are not observing any adverse effects on their quality of supply is good news for CLASS. However, we will not have the full picture until all the trials and surveys have been completed in April 2015.

      Customer survey key facts

      We have successfully recruited 696 CLASS customers to take part in our surveys: 496 domestic and 200 industrial and commercial which is a statistically robust and representative sample.

      Customer surveys completed:

      • Baseline = 696 (496 domestic, 200 I&C).
      • Summer = 184 (142 domestic, 42 I&C)
      • Autumn (ongoing)  to date = 197 (129 domestic, 68 I&C).
      In our summer season survey, 97% of customers surveyed were satisfied with their electricity supply.

      What’s next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Continuing with the trials (season two started in September)
      • Continuing to keep you informed on our progress
      • Interim analysis of network data will be published on our website in January 2015
      • Our next webinar in March 2015.



      Find out more

      We have set up a dedicated page on our website which provides information on our trial surveys, frequently asked questions and details of how to contact us. If you have any ideas on how we could improve this page, please contact us

      • You can also visit our website to see our latest video featuring some of our customers discussing their involvement in CLASS
      • If you have a voltage or power quality query please phone us on 0800 195 4141
      • If you have a general enquiry about the CLASS project: email us or contact us through our website
      • You can also text your question to 87070- start your message with CLASS followed by your name. All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate
      Our next customer update will be issued in February 2015.
    • Customer update August 2014

      A low-cost innovative solution which manages electricity demand by controlling voltage....but with the same great service to customers

      CLASS is now live and our trials have started. In this second update to customers in the CLASS trial areas, we tell you about our progress on the trials and our customer surveys.

      CLASS project update

      damian working

      Early in spring 2014, we achieved a major milestone for the project when we completed testing and went ‘live’ with the CLASS technological solution. This is a suite of inter-connected technologies, some of which are installed on the electricity network, some in our control room and some in National Grid’s control room.

      Designing, developing and commissioning these technologies has been one of the biggest challenges for the project to date. However, the significant learning that we gain will help with the rollout of CLASS nationally, if the trials prove successful.

      The technology installation is a major part of the project, but we also need to understand if CLASS has any effect on you, our customers. So now that CLASS is live, we have started our trials and customer surveys which will continue until summer 2015. We are also passing network-related data to the University of Manchester for analysis.

      The findings from the customer surveys and the network data analysis will determine whether CLASS has been successful, and therefore whether it can be rolled out nationwide.

      Customer surveys – what we have we done so far

      We have recruited a representative sample of 400 domestic customers and 296 business customers to take part in our surveys between May 2014 and May 2015. All survey participants live or work in the CLASS trial areas. Before the trials started, each customer took part in a baseline survey. The baseline survey collected household information such as how many people live in the customer’s home, which appliances are frequently used and current perception of power quality. Together with data about the impact of the trials, this information will be used to see whether customers observe any changes to their power supply as a result of CLASS.

      The first season of CLASS trials started in May and will finish in August 2014. Since the trials started, we have completed 90 short customer surveys which are conducted over the phone. These seasonal surveys will assess whether customer perception of power quality has changed from that reported before the trials started.

      Customer surveys – what have customers noticed

      Survey image

      The good news is that so far, there has been no statistically significant change in the proportion of customers noticing a difference in the performance of their appliances when compared to the baseline survey.

      In total 7% (seven customers) claimed to have noticed an adverse effect on their electricity supply. Two of these changes occurred during a trial but further investigation showed that neither was related to CLASS

      The fact that the initial surveys are showing that customers are not observing any adverse effects on their quality of supply is good news for CLASS. However, we will not have the full picture until all the trials and surveys have been completed.

      Customer survey key facts

      • Our CLASS survey participants own a whopping 41,794 appliances!
      • Approximately 3/5 of our 697 CLASS survey participants live in the Manchester region, 1/5 live in Lancashire and 1/5 in Cumbria
      • 92% of households are often at home at times of peak demand (4-7pm) which means they have the opportunity to notice any possible effects of CLASS
      • In our latest customer satisfaction survey 97% of customers were satisfied with their electricity supply

      What’s next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Continuing with the trials (season two starts early in September)
      • Preliminary results report from season one will be available on our trial surveys page in October
      • Continuing to keep you informed on our progress

      Find out more

      • We have set up a dedicated page on our website which provides information on our trial surveys, frequently asked questions and details of how to contact us. If you have any ideas on how we could improve this page, please contact us
      • You can also visit our website to see our latest video featuring some of our customers discussing their involvement in CLASS
      • If you have a voltage or power quality query please phone us on 0800 195 4141
      • If you have a general enquiry about the CLASS project: email us or contact us through our website
      • You can also text your question to 87070 - start your message with CLASS. All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate
      • We have sent you this email because you registered to take part in the CLASS surveys. If you would like to unsubscribe from our e-mail update, click here
      • Our next customer update will be issued in November 2014
    • Customer update, May 2014

      A low-cost innovative solution which manages electricity demand by controlling voltage....but with the same great service to customers

      In this first update to customers in the CLASS trial area, we provide an introduction to our project, Customer Load Active System Services (CLASS), and give an update on our progress to date. We hope you find it of interest.

       We have sent you this email because you registered to take part in the CLASS surveys. An update on the selection process can be found in Taking part in our surveys below. 

      What is CLASS?

      The amount of electricity and the ways customers use electricity is constantly changing. To ensure that a reliable supply of electricity is provided to customers at all times we need to develop smarter and more flexible ways of managing electricity networks to minimise costs, disruption and carbon emissions. At Electricity North West we are leading a number of innovative projects to do that. These include the £9 million CLASS project, funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund.

      As part of the CLASS project we are aiming to demonstrate that by working smarter, we can do more with our existing electricity network. This will be done by trialling a range of techniques to manage electricity consumption at peak times by controlling voltage, but without customers noticing any adverse effects. To do this we have installed remote control devices on some sections of the electricity network. These will enable us to control voltage and manage electricity supply and demand, especially at peak times when the network is under greatest strain.

      The ability to manage peak demand in this way could provide us with a useful tool for managing increasing demand for electricity. If the trials in the North West are effective it could be rolled out across Great Britain and will make it easier to adopt low carbon technologies onto the electricity network such as wind and solar power. It would avoid or defer costly network reinforcement and therefore deliver cost savings for customers.

      The project will run until September 2015.

      As part of our awareness campaign and to keep our customers up-to-date, we sent a leaflet to all our customers in the CLASS trial areas. Click here to see the leaflet.

      Class trials

      To test the CLASS technology and to understand your perceptions of its effects, we are running a series of trials involving controlled changes to voltage levels at 60 primary substations between now and June 2015. This represents 17% of our network and around 470,000 customers.

      We have installed a range of monitoring equipment across the network. This will enable us to collect data about CLASS which will analysed by the University of Manchester.

       We successfully installed all of the control and monitoring equipment on our network at the end of March 2014 and we have now started our technical trials.

       Click here to see more details about the trials including how we selected our CLASS sites and how we identified our monitoring locations.

      Taking part in our surveys


      One of the things we are trying to prove during the CLASS trials is that “customers within the trial areas will not see/observe/notice any adverse effects on their electricity supply when these innovative techniques are applied”.

      This is why we need customers in the trial area to take part in a series of surveys. This will help us understand your observations of any effects on your electricity supply during the trials.

      We have had an overwhelming response to our request for customers to take part in our surveys. This means that more customers than we need have registered. Our market research partners Impact Research have now finalised the list of required participants. If you have registered to take part in our surveys, you will be contacted in the next few weeks to let you know if you have been selected as a participant or not. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all customers who registered an interest in taking part and we are sorry that not all of you could be involved.

      If you have been selected to take part in the surveys, we will ask you to take part in a maximum of five surveys between June 2014 and June 2015. Impact Research will contact you to take part in an initial survey which is likely to be at your home or business and will last around 20 minutes. Subsequent seasonal surveys are likely to be shorter and conducted over the phone.

      We will ask you for feedback about your electricity supply to see if you have noticed any changes relating to the CLASS trials. In return for helping us with our surveys, we will give you a cash reward of up to £150 and provide you with regular updates on our progress

      What's next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Continuing our trials
      • Starting our seasonal customer surveys
      • Producing a report in September 2014 which will summarise the preliminary results from the trials