Rockland Electric Files for Electric Rate Review with NJBPU
Goals: Improved Storm Resilience, Customer Service, Tech Innovation
To provide for the continued safe, reliable and secure operation of its electric delivery system, Rockland Electric Company today requested a regulatory review of its electric delivery rates by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).
Since Rockland Electric’s last base rate review in 2017, a number of rate reductions related primarily to changes in the federal tax code and the completion of the recovery of storm costs incurred from Superstorm Sandy together lowered customers’ bills by approximately $16.5 million.
Rockland Electric today proposed a plan to provide for increased customer satisfaction, improved storm resilience and response, greater technological innovation, and more efficient operations.
Rockland Electric Company President and CEO Robert Sanchez said, “Today’s rate review request is designed to meet the demands of a dynamic energy marketplace where customers desire more control over their energy usage and expect a more reliable and resilient system. This request achieves those goals.”
He added, “At the same time, Rockland Electric will continue to champion its core values: public and employee safety, operational excellence and enhanced customer experience.”
To fund these proposed electric delivery initiatives, Rockland Electric seeks an increase in revenues for electric delivery of $19.9 million or 9.6 percent.
If approved by the NJBPU, the new rates proposed by Rockland Electric would provide a $4.3 million revenue increase over revenues set during Rockland Electric’s rate review in 2017 or 2.1 percent.
Under the proposed rates, the bill for a typical residential customer would increase by $19.20 per month from the current bill of $165.66, or $5.66 more than the 2017 rate plan typical residential bill.
The key initiative in today’s proposal to further improve the customer experience and increase customer engagement is Rockland Electric’s successful completion of installation of approximately 73,000 electric smart meters throughout its service area in Bergen, Sussex and Passaic counties.
Smart meters, which already serve about 70 million customers nationwide, are safe, secure and reliable encrypted devices that provide two-way, wireless communication between the company and its customers.
This $16-milllion program offers Rockland Electric customers greater choice and control over their energy use. The smart meters also facilitate quicker restoration of service after a storm event by communicating the precise location of service interruptions.
In addition, Rockland Electric has invested $14.5 million to further storm-harden the electric system.
Approximately $7.1 million of those storm-hardening funds were invested in smart grid system automation. The smart grid integrates state-of-the-art equipment and technology with advances in computer analysis, communications, monitoring and control to significantly enhance system reliability, efficiency and overall quality of service. The program’s goal is to remotely isolate a problem on the system to reduce its impact on customers. This work should be particularly helpful in addressing weather-related tree interference issues in Wyckoff and surrounding towns.
The customer benefits, including cost savings, and service enhancements associated with both the smart meter and smart grid technological improvements, are consistent with the goals of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan (EMP).
Additional storm-hardening reliability improvement projects include significant equipment upgrades in the Closter, Ringwood and Allendale substations totaling $2.5 million.
Further, a number of overhead electric system upgrades are underway, featuring the installation of stronger cable and more robust poles in Harrington Park, Old Tappan, Franklin Lakes, Montvale, Oakland and Wyckoff, totaling $2.4 million. And, underground construction of select overhead circuits will improve system reliability in Norwood, Allendale, Ringwood and Old Tappan totaling more than $4 million.
Additional electric system storm hardening efforts center on vegetation management and compliance with expanded NJBPU standards that now include the substantial task of removing tree branches that overhang wires. Further, Rockland Electric is proposing a new program to remove trees that are damaged, diseased or otherwise represent a hazard to the secure operation of the electric system from outside the rights-of-way. Those costs total $500,000.
The rate filings and additional information are available at: oru.com/njtariffs.
Rockland Electric Company is an electric utility that serves 73,000 customers in parts of Bergen, Passaic and 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.
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