PSEG Long Island would pay customers $85 for installing special energy-cutting devices for use during peak times under an updated power-reduction program initiated by LIPA.
Under the proposed rules, which would take effect April 1 pending LIPA trustee approval, PSEG would allow outside companies that manage such devices to market them to customers with special incentives to encourage adoption and use. In addition to the $85 sign-up fee, customers would receive $25 a year for remaining in the program.
The devices include programmable thermostats that allow the utility to remotely limit the amount of time central air-conditioning units cycle on during heat waves. Customers generally can override the devices. Other devices allow the utility to remotely control swimming pool pumps.
The devices would primarily operate during periods of peak use, such as hot summer days, when electricity is at its most expensive and highest demand. Cutting peak use reduces utilities’ operating costs, and alleviates the need for more capacity in subsequent years.
LIPA proposes a slight increase in the power supply charge to recoup costs of the program. If 35,000 customers sign up, for instance, the cost would be $2.98 million, while the energy savings would amount to $1.3 million per year, according to LIPA documents.
LIPA for around a decade had operated a program called LIPA Edge, which uses radio frequency technology to remotely control central air cooling mechanisms through programmable thermostats. Some 36,000 customers signed up for the program, which in the past had been used only moderately, despite a price tag of more than $33 million, Newsday has reported.
PSEG and LIPA will offer two other so-called “dynamic load management” programs to help shave energy use during peak demand times.
One would help LIPA avoid having to build additional transmission and distribution infrastructure like substations by getting customers to commit to reduce their usage a day before anticipated peak-use times. The other would cut usage during high-demand events to ease stress on the system.
The utility would offer customers who agree to the new terms special discounts on a kilowatt hour basis.
Julia Bovey, director of the Long Island Department of Public Service, said the new programs will create ways for “newer innovative technologies to flourish here on Long Island.”
The program is expected to be marketed by companies that will pool large numbers of customers to create significant demand reduction.