Rockland Electric Maps Out Smart Meter Program

Rockland Electric Company is finalizing its implementation plan to install an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system, better known as smart meters, throughout its New Jersey service area.

Smart meters, which already serve about 65 million customers nationwide, are safe, secure and reliable encrypted devices that will provide two-way, wireless communication between Rockland Electric and its customers’ electric service. They are designed to provide Rockland Electric customers greater convenience, choice and control over their energy use.

 

AMI is an integrated system of meters, communication networks, and data management systems that will

  • Reduce costs for meter reading and customer field services, as well as the costs associated with back-office operations required to handle customer billing inquiries
  • Facilitate quicker restoration of service after a storm event by communicating the precise location of service interruptions
  • Allow customers to better control their energy costs and participate in various energy efficiency and/or demand response programs
  • Enhance the planning and operation of the electric grid by providing operators and engineers with detailed data on system conditions
  • Generate usage data that is key to the overall operation of the smart grid.

On August 23, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) approved Rockland Electric’s plans to deploy smart meters.

 

That approval was conditional on Rockland Electric’s notifying the NJBPU of the company’s intent to proceed with its AMI program and file an implementation plan. Rockland Electric notified the NJBPU of the company’s intention to proceed on September 19.

 

The company is finalizing its AMI Implementation Plan which must be filed with the NJBPU by December 15. That plan will address a number of metrics to demonstrate: the benefits and effectiveness of smart meters, provide a customer outreach and education program and discuss various technical logistical issues involving the value of the incumbent meters that will be replaced by smart meters.

 

Rockland Electric estimates that full installation of electric smart meters throughout its service area will take about two years and cost approximately $16.5 million. The company did not request funding for AMI in this filing. In keeping with NJBPU procedures, Rockland Electric plans to ask for recovery of those costs in future rate proceedings after the smart meter deployment has been initiated.

In its August 23 order, the NJBPU concluded that Rockland Electric’s proposed smart meter program has the potential to satisfy the goals of the NJ Energy Master Plan (EMP) and that the EMP supports Rockland Electric’s intended use of AMI and smart meter technology. The NJBPU also deemed Rockland Electric’s cost-benefit analysis sufficient for the smart meter program to proceed.

 

In addition, the NJBPU adopted a $15 a month meter-reading charge for customers who opt out of the smart meter program. The NJBPU noted that this charge is consistent with charges for opt-out programs for utilities in other jurisdictions.

 

Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), Rockland Electric’s parent company, began installing smart meters in Rockland County this summer and plans to install 230,000 electric smart meters in its New York service area by 2020.

 

Rockland Electric Company is an electric utility serving approximately 72,000 customers in parts of northern Bergen and Passaic counties and small sections of Sussex County in New Jersey. Rockland Electric is a wholly owned subsidiary of Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., which in turn is owned by Consolidated Edison, Inc.