O&R's Clean Energy Goals Investments Designed to Expand, Modernize and Protect Its Electric System; Maintain Gas System Safety, Reliability
Increasingly Harsh Weather Risks Drive Plans to Protect Company Energy Delivery Facilities
Orange and Rockland Utilities (O&R) today filed with the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) an electric and natural gas delivery investment plan designed to expand O&R’s electric system capacity to serve growing residential and commercial demand, modernize the electric system to integrate more renewable energy to meet clean energy goals, and fortify the electric system to protect it from weather threats posed by increasingly harsh weather risks.
The plan also proposes programs to enhance customer service, broaden customer outreach and education, and assist the company’s most vulnerable customers. The investment plan also calls for measures that maintain a safe and reliable natural gas system, while helping customers transition away from fossil fuels.
O&R President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Sanchez said, “Our investment plan will help O&R transition to a clean energy future equitably and efficiently so all its customers can share in the benefits of a more sustainable electric grid. We will do so while also maintaining our commitment to assist our most economically vulnerable customers, supporting the state’s efforts to continuously improve the Energy Affordability Program, and targeting investment benefits to people living in disadvantaged communities.”
Sanchez added, “We are also proposing investments to reinforce the electric system, improving resilience in the face of increasingly severe weather events that have been impacting our service territory.”
If approved by the NYSPSC, the new rates for the delivery of both electric and natural gas would become effective January 1, 2025.
While today’s investment plans propose one-year rate plans for electric and gas service, O&R intends to explore multi-year rate plans in settlement discussions with the staff of the New York State Department of Public Service (NYSDPS) and interested parties. Multi-year rate plans benefit customers by providing certainty as to the level of the company’s delivery rates over a number of years. Multi-year rate plans also facilitate implementation of the company’s project and programs that are detailed in the rate filings.
Today’s filing begins an intensive public review process with the NYSDPS and interested parties, including energy industry representatives and consumer and environmental advocacy groups. Customer input through public hearings and written comments is also part of the process.
Electric Investment Plan
O&R is proposing several multi-benefit projects to reinforce the electric system, improving resilience in the face of increasingly severe weather.
To facilitate NYSDPS staff and stakeholder review, the proposed projects in the company’s November Climate Change Resilience Plan – a five-year plan – are also included in this investment plan. It’s important to note that even though these projects are listed in both plans, customers would only fund the program once.
Here are some of those projects:
- Substation Flooding Mitigation
Upgrade three electric substations – Hillburn, Lovett, and Summitville – by installing perimeter berms to prevent water infiltration and to channel the flow of flood water away from the substation control house. Waterproofing equipment cabinets inside the control house would add another level of protection. These measures can reduce substation equipment damage from extreme rain events. They also can increase the reliability and life expectancy of the substations’ assets and avoid restoration and replacement costs.
- Selective Undergrounding Program
Convert over 17 miles of overhead distribution circuits and five miles of transmission lines to underground equipment during 2025 through 2029. That enhances the durability and reliability of the electric transmission and distribution systems.
- Overhead Distribution System Hardening
Expand the existing program to replace open wires with stronger bundled wires. This mitigates system exposure to external hazards such as tree contact.
- Distribution Automation/Smart Grid Project
Accelerate the installation of computer-controlled devices to operate electric circuits. That reduces the number of customers affected and the duration of their electric service outages by automatically isolating system damage. For example, O&R’s analysis of the performance of the Smart Grid’s performance during Tropical Storm Isaias showed that electric system automation prevented 64,000 O&R customer outages and shortened over 73,000 O&R customer outages.
- Hazard Tree Removal Program
Increase annual tree removal under this program (1,300 hazard trees removed per year currently.) That reduces power outages by helping prevent downed trees from damaging electric equipment, powerlines, and supporting structures.
Resiliency and Reliability
- The West Point / Highland Falls Project involves the upgrade of the existing O&R 34.5 kv transmission system between the Harriman Substation and the Highland Falls and West Point Substations to 69 kv. The project is a multi-value investment that will help maintain system reliability by accommodating anticipated load growth in the area, provide additional headroom to integrate renewables, and increase resiliency in the face of extreme weather events that are expected to become more severe as the result of climate change.
- The Line 705 Project will provide a new underground transmission line running 5.5 miles across Clarkstown that will provide an additional source of electricity for Rockland County where increasing business development is creating additional electric system demand. In addition, the new transmission line’s connection to a new transformer bank in West Nyack will improve electric service reliability, resiliency, and capacity for a large number of Clarkstown and Orangetown customers.
- The Line 96 Project involves rebuilding an existing O&R 69 kv transmission line between the Monroe Substation and the Blooming Grove Substation, changing it into a double-circuit line on the existing right-of-way corridor. The project will include the replacement of a single line with double circuit lines. This additional line will provide a transmission feed to O&R’s Blooming Grove Substation.
- The Westtown Substation upgrade addresses the current design of the substation which severely limits the ability to serve increased demand and the ability to interconnect additional distributed energy resources (DER). The investment plan proposes substation upgrades to the facility. Those improvements will add the room needed to integrate clean energy projects and flexibility to accommodate renewable resources.
Other planned programs in the investment plan would expand capacity in Orange County including the construction of new electric substations in Otisville, Middletown, and Warwick.
In Rockland County, to improve service reliability and resilience, the company proposes to build a new substation in Clarkstown, upgrade the Monsey substation and the Corporate Drive substation in Orangetown, underground overhead power lines at 11 strategic Rockland locations including: Nanuet, Spring Valley, West Haverstraw, and West Nyack, and replace the CSX West Shore transmission structures in Congers.
The proposal seeks an additional $18.1 million in revenue to upgrade and operate the company's electric delivery system. Overall customer electric bills would rise 3.7 percent. The increase will vary by customer class.
Gas Investment Plan
As it relates to gas service, O&R’s support for New York State’s clean energy goals remains steadfast and we will continue actively promoting non-fossil alternatives through various marketing and communications channels. The investment plan includes natural gas-related projects related to safety and reliability. O&R continues its critical focus on maintaining a safe and reliable energy system.
To support that goal, the company proposes to replace 20 miles of leak-prone pipe which will enhance safety and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, install an additional 30,000 natural gas detectors throughout the O&R service territory, implement a gas reliability project in Orange County that upgrades gas regulator station infrastructure to improve safety and reliability, and pursues enhancements to the Pipeline Safety Management System.
The proposal seeks an additional $14.4 million for the gas system. Overall customer gas bills would increase 6.3 percent. The increase will vary by customer class.
Energy Storage and Solar
O&R proposes investments in energy storage and solar to support grid operations and make progress toward the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
In addition to expanding the company’s existing Pomona battery storage project, the company proposes to install five battery storage systems at O&R substations to provide grid services at Blooming Grove, Forest Ave., Goshen, Otisville, and Bullville. The company also will install four battery storage systems to address electric vehicle growth in Haverstraw, Nyack, Middletown, and Sloatsburg. O&R will implement a Solar Benefits for All program with 100 percent of the program’s net revenue allocated to fund the company’s Energy Assistance Program.
These investments will provide multiple benefits to customers, including enhancing system reliability and avoiding larger infrastructure costs through peak-load shaving, mitigating the operational impacts of high penetrations of DER, allowing additional hosting capacity for planned DER development, and affording direct benefits to low- and moderate-income customers and disadvantaged communities (DACs).
Projects to Benefit DACs
- The Burns Substation Upgrade Project in Nanuet will provide substation transformer and circuit capacity to support interconnection projects and beneficial electrification.
- Construction of Forest Avenue Substation in the Town of Monroe will support new expected load growth in the area, and the electrification needs of the surrounding area.
- Building a new Goshen Substation, which is a multi-benefit project because it improves area reliability, addresses aging/obsolescent infrastructure, facilitates electrification and DER hosting capacity.
Customer Service / Vulnerable Customers
- The investment plan includes several Customer Service investments, including core business system enhancements and customer service telecommunication system enhancements, which will help customers and the state achieve ambitious clean energy goals.
- O&R is investing in technologically advanced billing and service systems to accommodate expected billing and service enhancements and improve customer experience.
- O&R is committed to keeping bills affordable and advancing programs to protect its most vulnerable customers. O&R will continue to be an active participant and support the continued evolution and growth of the Energy Affordability Program that provides monthly discounts to low-income customers that qualify.
- O&R also has added new products to the O&R Marketplace (MyORUStore.com) that enable low-income customers and those living in DACs to participate in energy efficiency programs.
O&R’s construction projects serve to increase employment in the local economy, and energy system expansion to accommodate anticipated load growth, and this supports investments in homes and businesses in the O&R service territory. These investments add jobs to the local economy in many areas and spur general economic development.
A recently published study commissioned by O&R shows that O&R’s total economic output for 2022 in its New York State service territory totals $1.5 billion. That accounts for the creation of 2,880 jobs in New York where O&R paid nearly $160 million in state and local taxes in 2022.
The complete investment review request is available on O&R’s website at: oru.com/EnergyInvestments.
About Orange & Rockland
Orange and Rockland Utilities (O&R) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. (Con Edison) (NYSE: ED), one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. O&R is a regulated electric and gas utility that serves approximately 226,450 electric customers and 143,000 natural gas customers in New York.
For additional information about O&R, please visit O&R’s Web site at www.oru.com.