Con Edison lauds benefits of smart meters

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New York utility Consolidated Edison has installed more than 4 million smart electricity and 1.3 million gas meters in its 5.3 million meter rollout.

The rollout which started in 2017 has put “unprecedented control into the hands of customers” and provides “insight into outages and restoration”, says the company in its latest Sustainability Report for 2020.

For example, in 2020 over 15,000 unnecessary truck rolls were avoided for the company in its New York City and Westchester County service area and over 5,000 for its Orange & Rockland subsidiary, which services more than 300,000 customers in southeastern New York and adjacent areas of northern New Jersey.

Management of ‘nested’ or ‘embedded’ outages also has improved, with the AMI system utilised to quickly notify operators of the conditions while enhancing the communications that customers receive regarding restoration of service.

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Another system benefit Con Edison highlights is conservation voltage optimisation, with the AMI system leveraged to reduce energy usage across the service territory by approximately 1.5% on average. With the reduction in fuel use for generation, there has been a resultant reduction of 1.9% in CO2 emissions across Con Edison’s service territory and 1% across New York State.

Both of these services are continuing to be rolled out across the company’s service areas as the smart meter rollout advances.

Con Edison describes its advanced meter infrastructure project as the largest project in the company’s history, comprising approximately 4 million smart electric meters and 1.3 million gas devices.

Gas detection

As part of the project, a first-of-its-kind, battery-powered natural gas detector that is integrated with the smart meter communications network was developed. These detectors monitor natural gas levels and send a wireless alert to Con Edison if a potential gas leak is detected.

A pilot programme to install detectors began in October 2018, which has been subsequently expanded territory wide. By the end of 2020, there were over 19,000 natural gas detectors installed.

In its report, Con Edison also notes the almost $1.5 billion that has been invested in the transmission and distribution systems in New York City and Westchester County to prepare for summer 2021. Peak demand for electricity in the summer of 2021 is projected to reach 12,880MW.

New technology to make service more reliable has included installation of 5,500 devices in manholes for remote monitoring of stray voltage, heat, and carbon monoxide in underground structures.

The company also has developed a new infrared tool to detect temperature anomalies that may be indicative of a fault in underground equipment.