O&R: New Projects, Energy Efficiency Programs Designed to Beat the Heat
Orange & Rockland (O&R) today said it is prepared to meet high summer demand for electricity with continued investments in projects that improve electric service reliability and the further development of energy efficiency programs that help customers use less energy, save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
To prepare for this summer’s peak demands for electricity, O&R is making investments totaling nearly $120 million this year to fortify and improve the reliability of its electric system. That investment builds on the nearly $840 million O&R has invested over the past 10 years on electric system maintenance and reliability projects.
Several operational steps — from pro-active system maintenance and construction to close monitoring and fast reaction to heat-related electric system concerns on high heat days — also play a critical role in the safe and reliable delivery of electric service.
These steps also include line clearance work in the form of specific tree-trimming projects, infrared inspections and transmission line patrols and distribution equipment testing and inspections.
O&R also is pursuing a strategy the company adopted in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to provide additional storm protection at specific key electric system locations. Those electric system improvements include building additional electric circuits and undergrounding system-critical locations where multiple overhead circuits are present on distribution poles.
Further, O&R will continue the installation of recloser switches throughout its electric distribution system. These devices divide circuits into smaller segments, reducing the number of customer affected by outages. They also provide a communication channel for remote reporting of operating conditions and remote control to address specific operations issues when they develop
Since last summer, new projects designed to further enhance electric system reliability, especially during high summer demand, have been built and will be ready for operation this summer.
Those projects include:
Ramapo to Rock Tavern Transmission Project – This project includes a new 345kV transmission line that extends 27.4 miles from an existing substation in Ramapo to an existing substation in New Windsor, and upgrades at the connecting substations. This line (which includes a 15.5-mile O&R portion) will improve electric service reliability by increasing power flows from upstate to downstate, and, through a new substation on Sugarloaf Mountain in Chester, will increase power flow directly into O&R’s service territory. This project, which is now operational, is owned by New York Transco. New York Transco is a member-owned company that includes Con Edison Transmission, LLC, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc.; Grid NY, LLC, a subsidiary of National Grid PLC; Avangrid Networks New York Transmission, LLC, a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc.; and Central Hudson Electric Transmission, a subsidiary of CH Energy Group, Inc.
Blue Lake Substation – Located on the former site of the King’s College in the Town of Warwick, this new substation will serve the new Watchtower Group facility and electric demand in Warwick, Tuxedo, Sloatsburg and Ringwood. This station became operational May 25.
Shoemaker Substation Upgrade – This new project completed a major overhaul of this key substation, updating or replacing a wide array of internal operational equipment at the facility. This work was designed to enhance electric service reliability in much of O&R’s western Orange County service area as well as O&R’s Sullivan County and Pike County, Pa. service areas. These improvements were completed May 22.
Electric bills are expected to be slightly higher this summer than last. The typical O&R residential customer in Orange County using a consumption average of 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to see that monthly bill rise 0.9 percent this summer as compared to summer 2015. A summer 2015 bill, which consists of both electric supply and delivery charges, for a typical Orange residential customer was $130.26. That bill in summer 2016 is expected to increase a little over one dollar to $131.39.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation
To help its customers use electricity this summer as prudently as possible, O&R is promoting a number of energy efficiency programs for residential, small business and commercial and industrial customers.
Chief among those programs is O&R’s online store, My ORU Store, a digital marketplace that offers O&R’s residential customers a wide variety of energy-saving products. Those products include LED lighting packs, water conservation products, advanced power strips and smart thermostats — all designed to make saving energy and money both easy and affordable.
O&R developed this program to more closely align its energy-efficiency efforts with the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC) “Reforming the Energy Vision” initiatives to modernize the state’s energy utility industry. Among those initiatives are programs to motivate and empower customers to better understand and take control of their energy use.
For example, through the store, eligible New York customers can receive an instant rebate of up to $48 on energy-saving products and can receive a further rebate of $85 when they enroll their smart thermostat in O&R’s innovative Bring Your Own Thermostat program.
Since 2009, O&R has helped residential and business customers save more than 88,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy and 21.3 megawatts (MW) of peak demand by implementing a suite of energy-efficiency programs.
The energy saved by O&R’s electric and gas programs during that period has reduced carbon emissions by 32,000 tons, or the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars off the road.
What can consumers do to help ease unpredictable bills?
O&R offers a level-payment program to customers called Budget Billing.
Budget Billing does not reduce the overall energy expense. But, it permits customers to spread out their annual energy expense over a 12-month period and lets customers know ahead of time what their monthly payment will be. After 12 months, the company reconciles the estimates with the customer’s actual energy usage.
O&R also urges customers to take simple energy-saving steps to reduce their bills while staying comfortable. For additional information about energy efficiency programs, visit O&R’s Web site at www.oru.com.
And, customers could also shop for an alternate energy supplier that could possibly offer a lower competitive price for the energy supply portion of the bill.
There are several ways customers can report outages and check service restoration status:
Go to www.oru.com from any computer or web-enabled mobile device;
Use the O&R mobile app from your iPhone, iPad or Android device;
Text “OUT” to 69678 (myORU); or
Call Customer Assistance at 1-877-434-4100
Go to www.oru.com/mobileconnect to learn more about our mobile communication options.