PSEG Long Island on Tuesday enacted a program to trim peak-energy use by remotely adjusting the thermostats of some 30,000 customers in a move that could save ratepayers $1.4 million.
Summer usage tends to spike to power home and business air conditioners, as wholesale energy prices hit their highest levels. Cutting use now not only reduces current costs but lowers the need for more resources next year, and helps reduce future power-supply charges for customers, PSEG said.
Activating the Thermostat Energy Conservation program Tuesday is expected save around 30 megawatts of power, and to cut $1.4 million from 2017’s expected cost of reserve power, the utility said.
PSEG is using the remnants of a program previously known as LIPA Edge to curtail usage during the heat wave. It allows the utility to connect to customers via pager-communications networks to remotely adjust thermostats so that compressors within central-air-conditioning systems cycle off for 30 minutes each hour between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The LIPA Edge system, which cost ratepayers $33 million, was used rarely by LIPA, but PSEG has employed the program twice in the past two years.
“It’s good for our customers and the reliability of the electric system,” said Mike Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewable energy for PSEG.
Under a new version of the program begun this year, PSEG will pay customers $85 to install Wi-Fi-based thermostats in their homes, and $25 each year thereafter, to allow the utility to curtail energy use. Compared with the LIPA program that supplied a $300 thermostat, participants must buy their own Wi-Fi thermostat and have Wi-Fi access in their homes. Customers can override the system.
About 200 PSEG customers are using the Wi-Fi system, and PSEG expects to eventually begin phasing out the pager-based system when more than half have switched over, but that won’t happen for at least a year.
“We’ve decided for at least 12 months to keep the systems operating in parallel,” Voltz said of the Wi-Fi and pager-based systems. “There will be a crossover, when we have 15,000 of new ones.”
Customers themselves have been installing power-saving thermostats, some organized with the help of towns and nonprofits. One group called Peak Power Long Island in Southampton was organized to install thousands of thermostats with customers to cut peak power on the South Fork.
PSEG also is benefiting from another peak power shaver — solar energy.
The number of rebated solar systems on the grid has jumped to a cumulative 21,660 thus far in 2016, from 18,212 last year. Total systems, including some that are not rebated, are 33,927.