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PSEG to outfit some commercial users with smart meters

A new PSEG smart meter is seen at

A new PSEG smart meter is seen at this Snug Harbor Condominium complex March 25, 2015. Photo Credit: Chris Ware

Long Island’s largest commercial electricity users this year will be outfitted with advanced electric meters that will allow PSEG to remotely monitor and bill them for electric usage without the need for a meter reader.

The project, outlined in a filing by PSEG Long Island last week, is part of a broader grid-modernizing initiative called Utility 2.0. The plan also calls for building an Islandwide communication system for the so-called smart meters that will allow the utility to install them for real-time, wireless data collection.

PSEG also will include smart meters for all new solar-energy installations using so-called net meters — which measure the amount of energy customers sell back to the grid — along with some residential customers who have hard-to-reach meters. The cost for the project, expected to be completed by year’s end, is $3.9 million.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the switch will give customers more “timely, accurate billing information” without estimates, along with an online dashboard that will provide near real-time data about their usage.

While the plan is the utility’s largest to date for smart meters, it is a step back from one that had been part of PSEG’s plan for the utility as part of its 2015 rate-hike request. PSEG had previously planned to install 180,000 new smart meters across Long Island by 2019, but the state Department of Public Service shelved that plan for now, requesting more data on its benefits for customers.

More than 7,000 smart meters are in place around Long Island after several separate smart-grid pilot programs, including the Route 110 business corridor in Farmingdale and across all of Fire Island. The meters use Wi-Fi connections and the cellular network to send usage data back to the utility for billing. The meters allow the utility to identify and sometimes repair problems remotely, but some customers have health and privacy concerns because of the radio frequency used.

PSEG’s latest Utility 2.0 filing encompasses four requests for proposals the utility has initiated, or soon will: 63 megawatts of capacity on the South Fork, 210 megawatts of renewable energy, and two more expected this month for a combined 300-400 megawatts for Far Rockaway and the Glenwood Landing areas.

In each case, the state has recommended that the utility seek green-energy projects that could displace the need for traditional resources such as gas-fired power plants or expensive cables.

Utility 2.0 is essentially Long Island’s version of a state initiative called Reforming the Energy Vision, which seeks to use alternatives to replace more costly, traditional transmission cables and power plants.

In PSEG’s case, the company, on advice of the state DPS and the Long Island Power Authority, has essentially shifted its ambitious Utility 2.0 agenda to projects that were already deemed necessary for the Long Island grid. Previous Utility 2.0 filings had proposed spending $345 million to reduce system demand by 250 megawatts. A megawatt powers about 800 homes.

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