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.
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.