New Smart Meters, Energy Efficiency Help O&R Beat the Heat
To prepare for this summer’s peak demands for electricity, O&R has made investments totaling over $140 million this year to fortify and improve the reliability of its electric system. That investment builds on the nearly $1 billion O&R has invested over the past 10 years on electric system maintenance and reliability projects.
In Rockland County, the newest addition to O&R’s electric service reliability line up is the smart meter program. Smart meters, which already serve about 70 million customers nationwide, are safe, secure and reliable encrypted devices that provide two-way, wireless communication between O&R and its customers’ energy service.
They are designed to provide O&R and Rockland Electric customers greater choice, control and convenience over their energy use.
Smart meters’ benefits go beyond power monitoring to provide individuals greater control over their energy consumption. Customers will be able to see where and why their consumption increases or decreases and can take action to reduce their bills. The smart meters also facilitate quicker restoration of service after a storm event by communicating the precise location of service interruptions. O&R invested approximately $26 million in this project in 2017, and another $10 million so far in 2018.
Since the installation began in Rockland last summer, as of today, O&R’s crews and contractors have installed approximately 60,000 electric smart meters and over 40,000 smart meter modules for gas meters in the county. Between 300 and 500 meters are installed each day.
O&R plans to install 230,000 electric smart meters in its New York service area by the end of 2020 and another 74,000 smart meters in O&R’s New Jersey service area during the same period.
In addition, several operational steps --- from pro-active system maintenance and construction to close monitoring and rapid response to heat-related electric system concerns on high heat days --- play a critical role in O&R’s delivering safe and reliable electric service this summer.
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 post-Superstorm Sandy to provide additional storm protection at specific key electric system locations. These storm-resilience electric system improvements include building additional electric circuits and undergrounding selective system-critical locations where multiple overhead circuits are present on distribution poles. Taller, stronger poles also are being installed at key locations. Those processes are now part of O&R’s operational construction procedures.
And, those process improvements are having a positive impact on customers.
In the most recent example, during the destructive March nor’easters Riley and Quinn alone, O&R engineers estimate that over 18,000 O&R customers avoided, or experienced significantly briefer power outages, as a result of the storm-resilience improvements.
This summer, electric bills are expected to be slightly higher than last summer. The typical O&R residential customer in Rockland County using an average of 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to see that monthly bill increase nearly 1 percent (0.9 percent) this summer as compared to summer 2017. A summer 2017 monthly bill, which consists of both electric supply and delivery costs, for a typical Rockland residential customer was $139.22. That monthly bill in the summer of 2018 is expected to increase on average $1.23 to $140.45.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation
To help its customers use electricity this summer as wisely as possible, O&R is promoting a number of energy efficiency programs for residential, small business and commercial and industrial customers.
Among those programs is O&R’s online store. The My ORU Store www.myorustore.com is a digital marketplace that offers O&R’s residential customers a wide variety of energy-saving household products including LED lights, water/energy saving devices, advanced power strips, smart thermostats and connected home products. Home services are available from local customer-recommended contractors offering a/c and furnace tune ups and thermostat installations. The My ORU Store makes saving energy and money, both easy and affordable.
Eligible New York customers can receive instant rebates when they purchase energy-saving products and services on the My ORU Store and can receive additional rebates when they enroll their smart thermostat in O&R’s innovative Bring Your Own Thermostat program.
This summer, O&R has developed four more new residential energy efficiency programs that include integrating more energy efficient products and instant purchase rebates into the My ORU Store.
O&R developed these programs to more closely align its energy-efficiency efforts with the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC) 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.
Since 2009, 26,000 customers using these programs have saved 149,000 MWh of electricity, 119,000 Dth of natural gas, reduced peak electric demand by over 32 MW and have reduced carbon emissions by 103,000 tons.
That 149,000 MWh is enough energy to power over 18,000 homes, and is equivalent to taking 22,000 cars off the road. The 32 MWs of peak electric demand is enough to meet the peak demand needs of five Palisades Malls.
To learn more about O&R energy efficiency programs, visit us at www.oru.com/save.