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PSEG LI seeks $9 million to fund smart meters, car chargers

A then-new PSEG smart meter is shown at

A then-new PSEG smart meter is shown at a Snug Harbor condominium complex on March 25, 2015. Credit: Chris Ware

PSEG Long Island is requesting over $9 million more from LIPA ratepayers in 2017 to install some 50,000 new smart meters in customer homes, charging stations for electric cars and a two-meter on-bill loan program to fund customers’ solar-energy systems.

In a filing late in December, PSEG detailed the proposals and their costs, and outlined an ambitious new program called Super Saver, designed to cut energy by employing new technologies and education, for a section of the electric grid in Yaphank.

The filing makes reference to a 15-turbine wind farm to help provide power for the South Fork, saying contract talks for the project were expected to be completed late last year or “early 2017.” The formal announcement of the wind farm is widely expected to be included in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s regional state-of-the-state address on Long Island as soon as next week.

All the proposals, if approved, would require a “modest budget amendment” this year to pay for the programs, PSEG said in the filing.

PSEG to date has installed more than 5,000 smart meters, which allow two-way communication between customers and the utility through an islandwide wireless communication network. Smart meters allow the utility to monitor customer usage frequently through each day and eliminate the need for meter readers. Customers get real-time data on their usage.

For 2017, PSEG proposed smart meters become the standard for all “normally scheduled meter installations,” including new service, upgrades, meter retirements and damaged meter replacements. PSEG, which already uses smart meters for all solar-energy customers, also proposed smart meters this year for other business customers and for “customer-satisfaction” objectives.

The new on-bill financing program for solar energy systems would for the first time require that PSEG install two electric meters on customers’ homes. The current financing program, administered by New York State, would be replaced by one managed by PSEG with the help of the state’s Green Bank, which helps to arrange private capital to fund the program.

Customers would have two meters — one the existing “net” meter which banks all their excess solar energy, and another called an “AMI inverter meter.” According to PSEG’s plan, customers each month would be billed for their total usage, and receive a credit for their solar generation, which would be applied to the third-party loan charges before deducting for any usage charges.

Solar installations funded by the customers or financed in other ways would not need the two-meter system.

PSEG has proposed to roll out the program to some 1,250 solar projects, or to installations over the 12 months. It awaits final approval.

For the electric vehicle program, PSEG will pay for new charging stations at any business that commits to have at least five employees use electric vehicles. It proposes to have 100 stations in place by the end of 2018.

PSEG also would buy 20 plug-in vehicles for its own use “to showcase the technology.” The utility would install charging stations for its own employees, create a new time-of-use rate with certain discounts for electric vehicle customers and develop educational and marketing material for the devices.

The new Yaphank program would work to reduce customer electric usage through a series of devices and programs aimed at lowering demand at specific substations. The plan would educate customers on lowering their bills, provide them with smart meters, energy audits and up to 12 low-energy LED light bulbs, as well as smart thermostats that let the utility remotely adjust settings to cut peak summer power use. The utility would offer a special time-of-use rate to help cut power and direct usage to nonpeak hours.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the programs would cost residential customers “only cents per month” but allow them to “make smart energy choices,” cut their electric use and reduce their carbon footprint.

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