Company Spends $130 Million to Upgrade Systems for Summer 2021 – Residential Bills Could Be Up As Supply Costs Rise
PEARL RIVER, NY June 4, 2021 10:30 a.m. — Orange & Rockland (O&R) is kicking off the air conditioning season prepared to meet summer’s high demand for electricity with continued investments in projects that enhance electric service reliability and resilience and promote clean energy and energy efficiency practices.
To prepare for this summer’s peak demands for electricity, O&R has made investments totaling over $130 million this year to fortify and improve the reliability of its electric system. That investment builds on the nearly $1 billion O&R has invested over the past 10 years on electric system maintenance and reliability projects.
Those investments include several projects to provide additional storm protection. These storm-resilience electric system improvements include building additional electric circuits and undergrounding selective locations. Stronger poles and more storm-resistant wire also are being installed at key locations.
O&R is working to reinforce its electric system to improve electric service resiliency and minimize storm-related service interruptions by upgrading nine miles of existing overhead wire with higher capacity, tree-resistant cable and replacing approximately 900 utility poles with new, sturdier poles.
More than 200 new switches will be installed to allow for the isolation of system problems when they develop and minimize the number of customers affected by individual outages. Also, additional tree-trimming and tree removals will be performed to prevent potential tree interference problems and power outages.
Here’s a sampling of six similar reliability and resilience projects to upgrade service and install heavier-duty overhead cable in the following communities:
- Montebello. A $1million electric service upgrade, replacing 9,000 feet of existing overhead wire with higher capacity, tree-resistant cable and replacing 50 poles on Mile Road.
- Tuxedo Park. A $3.5 million electric service upgrade, upgrading nearly two miles of existing overhead wire with higher capacity, tree-resistant cable and replacing eight poles in the village.
- Lumberland. A $900,000 electric service upgrade, replacing over 7,500 feet of overhead line with sturdier, tree-resistant cable at Mohican Lake.
- Middletown. A $700,000 electric service upgrade, replacing 8,400 feet of overhead line with heavier-duty, tree resistant cable.
- Monroe. A $400,000 electric service upgrade to create a new circuit path along Knight St. and High Street.
- Pine Island. A $750,000 electric service upgrade, installing or replacing over 11,000 feet of overhead line.
In another storm-hardening project completed last year, O&R buried the overhead electric lines that run along the Lake DeForest causeway between New City and Congers in Clarkstown. The project cost $2.5 million and it was designed to improve service resiliency and minimize storm-related service interruptions at a location where O&R customers had experienced periodic weather-related electric service outages.
O&R projects summer electricity costs for its typical residential customer will be higher this summer due to increased supply charges by power generators and an increase in delivery charges that went into effect earlier this year.
O&R does not make a profit on these supply charges. The company buys power on the market from generators and provides it to customers at cost.
A typical O&R residential customer using 600 kilowatt hours per month can expect an average increase of 8.9 percent over the three-year average.
In recognition of the hardship the pandemic has created for many customers, O&R is offering payment plans for customers having trouble paying their bill. Customers with arrears should call 1-877-434-4100 to discuss payments plans.
O&R also continues to further automate its electric system through smart grid technological improvements. The smart grid integrates state-of-the-art equipment and technology with advances in computer analysis, communications, monitoring and control to significantly enhance system reliability, efficiency and overall quality of service.
For example, “smart” operating equipment — communication systems, automated switches, sensors and other “intelligent” devices — enables the electric system to detect where issues on the circuit exist and automatically isolate those issues. This isolated section of the circuit would remain out of service until repairs are made, but the remainder of the circuit — often serving hundreds of other customers — would remain energized, providing uninterrupted service to those customers.
In addition, several operational steps — like tree-trimming projects, infrared inspections of transmission lines, aerial and foot patrols and distribution equipment inspections and testing — also are key in O&R’s delivering safe and reliable electric service this summer.
While that work is being performed, O&R employees and contractors will continue to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for wearing face coverings, social distancing and personal hygiene including frequent hand washing or hand sanitizing. O&R asks that customers maintain appropriate social distancing when they encounter O&R employees working in the field, to provide for mutual safety. The following video shows a crew’s social distancing in action: https://bcove.video/3b4FvKW
In addition to storm hardening projects, O&R is developing electric service reliability projects that also achieve clean energy goals, including the successful completion of one of the most ambitious energy delivery system projects in O&R history.
That project — the smart meter installation project — replaced most O&R mechanical electric and natural gas meter with a modern digital meter in every home and business in O&R’s New York electric and gas service area.
Smart meters’ benefits go beyond power monitoring and reporting to provide individuals greater control over their energy consumption. Customers will be able to see when their consumption fluctuates and can then take action to further manage their usage. The smart meters also facilitate quicker restoration of service after a storm event by communicating the location of service interruptions. Smart meters can help customers save money and energy, and that means controlling their bills and saving the environment, too.
Battery Storage Project
O&R has completed another innovative energy efficiency project just in time for high summer electric demand with the successful installation of O&R’s first electric battery storage facility in Pomona.
A significant milestone in the growth of the clean energy industry in New York’s Hudson Valley, O&R’s new electric battery storage project will permit O&R to delay building costly new infrastructure that is designed to accommodate energy use at its peak.
How will the electric battery storage project do that? Learn more about the Pomona battery storage project here https://bcove.video/3areVhQ
The new battery storage project is connected to O&R’s electric distribution system. The battery storage system draws power from the distribution system to charge its batteries, usually at night when the price of electricity is lowest. That energy is stored until it is needed.
When electric demand increases — such as during a summer heat wave — to the point where more energy beyond the routine supply is required, O&R will supplement its supply with the stored battery power rather than buy power from the state electric grid. That stored energy is then delivered to customers from the battery storage site through its connection to the O&R electric system.
In addition, as wholesale and retail energy markets develop and mature, these batteries will be able to sell power into those markets to earn additional revenue, further reducing the cost to the customers of the overall battery deployment.
O&R President and CEO Robert Sanchez said, “This battery storage project represents a significant, positive, innovative achievement in O&R’s continuous efforts to provide cleaner, more sustainable, local power while minimizing its costs to its customers.”
The 3MW-battery is owned by O&R and was built on O&R property in Pomona by Key Capture Energy (KCE), who will provide operations and maintenance support for the battery over the next five years. The battery resembles five tractor-trailer-sized units, lined up, side-by-side. The cost of the project is $7.4 million.
To help its customers use electricity this summer as wisely as possible, O&R is offering a number of energy efficiency programs for residential, small business and commercial and industrial customers.
Among those programs is O&R’s online store. The My ORU Store www.myorustore.com is a digital marketplace that offers O&R’s residential customers a wide variety of energy-saving household products including LED lights, water/energy saving devices, advanced power strips, smart thermostats and connected home products. The My ORU Store makes saving energy and money simple, safe and easy and ships right to your door.
Eligible New York customers can receive instant rebates when they purchase energy-saving products and services on the My ORU Store. Those who purchase a qualified smart thermostat to control their central air conditioner can also automatically enroll in the new Smart Savers NY program to receive an additional instant rebate at the time of purchase. This one-stop shopping experience provides customers choice, convenience and innovative solutions to better manage their energy use.
O&R developed these programs to more closely align its energy-efficiency efforts with the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC) initiatives to modernize the state’s energy utility industry.
Since 2009, 112,000 customers using these programs have reduced carbon emissions by over 729,000 tons, saved over 1,227,000 MWh of electricity and 1,025,000 MMBtu of natural gas, and reduced peak demand by 50 MW.
That 1,227,000 MWh is enough energy to power over 151,000 homes for one year, and that 729,000 tons of carbon is equivalent to taking 155,000 cars off the road. The 50 MWs of peak electric demand is enough to meet the peak demand needs of eight Palisades Malls.
To learn more about O&R energy efficiency programs, visit us at www.oru.com/save.
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. O&R is a regulated utility that provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company), and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.