US mega-utility Con Edison (ConEd) has announced its 2020 summer resilience and energy efficiency plan for New York state, accompanied by an investment of $1.3 billion in its electric-delivery systems to keep service reliable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With customer billing anticipated to be higher than in previous years owing to lockdown conditions the company projects summer bills for typical New York City residential customers will be higher due to more people staying home, as well as increased supply charges by power generators.

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A typical New York City residential customer using 350 kilowatt-hours (KWh) per month can expect a 9.5% increase per month in the June-to-September period, compared to the same period in 2019, according to a release from the utlity, whilst a typical commercial customer using 10,800 kilowatt hours with a peak demand of 31 kilowatts can expect average monthly summer bills to increase from $2,203.94 in 2019 to $2,320.15 in 2020.

The utility’s initial projection for peak demand for electricity this summer was 13,220 MW under design weather conditions. But if major restrictions on opening businesses remain in place, demand could peak at 12,000 MW under design conditions. The record is 13,322 MW, which occurred on 19 July 2013.

The utilty, like many others globally, has suspended cut-offs and is waiving new late-fees, and has energy efficiency programs for residential and commercial customers in place.

ConEd coronairus
Con Edison’s Tim Lewis, a Con Edison Electric Operations lead mechanic, working on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Image credit: Con Edison

“Safe, reliable power is essential for New Yorkers, particularly during the health crisis,” said the president of Con Edison, Tim Cawley.

“We continue to invest to keep our system reliable and are accelerating the integration of clean technologies onto the grid. We also realize that these are difficult times for our customers and have taken steps to ease the financial burden and help them stay safe. Defeating the coronavirus requires a collective effort and the women and men of Con Edison are keenly focused on doing our part.”

Investments in Reliability and Clean Energy

While the company has put some work on hold, crews continue with work that ensures summer reliability, emergency work, and other essential projects.

Company crews have installed new cables and transformers on the underground and overhead delivery systems. The upgrades also include network protectors and work at substations. The upgrades cover all regions of the company’s 604-square-mile New York City and Westchester County service area.

In southeast Brooklyn, the crews have replaced 101 sections of underground cable and installed six new switches that isolate faults, reduce outages and allow for faster restoration of customers.

In Westchester County, the company has continued with its $100 million storm fortification program, installing new poles, cable and switches to toughen the overhead system against storms. Storms often follow heat waves when warm, moist air fills the atmosphere.

A project to enhance service in the northeast area of Staten Island replaced 170 spans of overhead conductor, 110 poles and 20 transformers. The project also includes the addition of four smart switches to the grid.

ConEd is also working to relieve stress off certain equipment in the southwest area of the Bronx, where the demand for power has grown. The company is transferring 6.6MW of customer demand from one set of underground cables to another set that has capacity to accommodate the load. The project involves installing new cable and 2,000 feet of conduit.

Impact of Health Emergency

The company announced plans to deploy mobile generators should extreme heat and high energy usage place stress on the grid.

Crews practice social distancing with each other and the public and use face coverings when the requirements of the work make social distancing impossible, according to guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Grid-fed DER, solar and improved demand response

Along with partner GI Energy, the utility has placed a battery system at a customer property on the North Shore of Staten Island. Under an agreement, ConEd can discharge power into the grid at times of high demand. The system can provide 1MW – or 1 million watts, making it a 1-megwatt/1 megawatt-hour system.

Counting combined heat and power, fuel cells and batteries, Con Edison customers provide more than 500MW of power via distributed energy resources.

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