Orange (News - Alert) & Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) has begun a three-year, $7.3 million smart grid pilot program that will benefit more than 25,000 ratepayers in 14 commuter towns outside metropolitan New York City.
O&R., headquartered in Pearl River, N.Y., will upgrade 14 circuits that serve all or part of the following Rockland County-based communities: Suffern, Spring Valley, Chestnut Ridge, Monsey, New Square, Kaser, New Hempstead, Nanuet, Tallman, Montebello, New City, Bardonia, West Nyack and Nyack.
Equipping those circuits with smart grid communication switches and other "intelligent" devices will enable the utility to remotely identify, locate and isolate problems, and to respond more rapidly to repair faults and restore service when outages occur.
Photo courtesy of O&R
O&R President and CEO John McAvoy said, "Smart grid technology helps us operate the electric system more efficiently than ever before. That means that customers will see fewer outages, smaller outages and shorter outages. In short, as a result of our smart grid projects, our customers will enjoy more reliable and more responsive electric service."
The program also offers another major advantage, to customers and management alike, because it enables the utility to defer a major capital investment of $45 million for a new substation and a substantial underground transmission line extension that would have otherwise been needed to serve this area.
Partial funding for this project comes from a $2 million grant awarded to O&R by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to advance further smart grid research and development.
Series of Upgrades
This project joins a series of smart grid projects funded by another combined $22.5 million in federal and state grants to pilot a new era in the way O&R maintains and operates its electric delivery system.
For example, this spring, O&R installed two new smart grid pilot program circuits, and associated communications equipment in the Nyack area. One circuit originates from the new Snake Hill Road substation and the other from the West Nyack substation. This represents the completion of a three-year, $3.4 million state-funded project. Those circuits serve customers in Nyack, Central Nyack and Upper Nyack.
Four additional smart grid circuits went online in June in O&R's Rockland Electric Company service area at the Darlington Substation in Ramsey, New Jersey, and one more smart grid circuit was activated at the South Mahwah, N.J., substation. These circuits represent the culmination of a three-year, $19.1-million U.S. Department of Energy-funded pilot program. Together, those circuits, which make the connection between the substation and the community, will serve customers in Suffern and Airmont as well as in Ramsey, Mahwah and Franklin Lakes.
This operation featured nine separate projects that included: building a communications and information platform that would power, inform and control the smart grid functions— rebuilding sections of both substations, as well as the electric distribution system, to make them compatible with smart grid technology.
Orange and Rockland Utilities is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. O&R and its two utility subsidiaries, Rockland Electric Company and Pike County Light & Power Co., serve a population of approximately 750,000 in seven counties in New York, northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Edited by Alisen Downey