PSE&G seeks approval to test advanced metering technologies


Ralph LaRossa,
President & COO,
Newark, NJ, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 14, 2007 – Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) today announced it has requested approval from state regulators to deploy and test advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technologies, capable of enabling customers to monitor energy use, conserve energy and lower their costs during periods of peak electric demand. The technologies will also be useful in reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Speaking at the New Jersey Energy Summit in New Brunswick recently, PSE&G President and COO Ralph LaRossa said the company has filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) that could pave the way for the AMI deployment and test as early as next summer. AMI has three key elements – smart meters that collect interval meter data, a two-way communications component that transmits information to and from the utility, and a meter data management system that stores and manages the information received.

"We are proposing this program to explore yet another way for the company and its customers to contribute to the state’s aggressive energy conservation and carbon reduction goals," LaRossa said. "The key to conservation is enabling customers to have the information they need to make the right choices. AMI provides real-time information, and can reduce energy usage remotely during times of peak demand. In the absence of an industry standard, this technology deployment will enable us to evaluate the most appropriate AMI strategy to pursue."

PSE&G will compare performance and cost differences of three AMI technologies under different operating conditions. The technologies are mesh network, radio frequency (RF) hybrid (point-to-point) and broadband over power line (BPL). The company will install 32,500 advanced meters in homes and businesses of customers in the Passaic County towns of Wayne, Paterson, and Totowa. In addition to testing the technology in residential, commercial and industrial settings, the initiative will determine how the various systems perform in urban, suburban and sparsely populated neighborhoods that have a mix of indoor and outdoor meters, a high rate of radio frequency interference and varied terrain.

PSE&G has requested expedited approval from the BPU to install equipment in customers’ homes and businesses and begin transmitting customer data beginning next summer. If approved by the BPU, PSE&G proposes to spend about $15 million to install the advanced metering infrastructure for this deployment in Passaic County.

As proposed in the filing, the results of the deployment will be analyzed by PSE&G and representatives of BPU staff, the Division of Rate Counsel, large industrial users, and members of environmental, consumer advocate and academic groups. A report outlining the strategic and public policy benefits will be provided to the BPU to assist the Board in evaluating and establishing a universal AMI approach in New Jersey. If the initial testing proves successful, LaRossa said PSE&G would expand the technology trial to a larger number of customers in its service territory.

In a recently concluded trial of a related initiative, called myPower, PSE&G tested customers’ reactions to a pricing program and technology that told them when energy was most expensive, so they could reduce their energy consumption and shift their energy usage to lower price periods. Customers participating in the program who were provided with thermostats that responded automatically to pricing signals were able to reduce summer peak electric demand by about 47 percent on peak days, and achieved a 3-4 percent energy savings during the summer months. A majority of participants saved money on their energy bills. Participants also reported that they believe that utilities should offer more programs like myPower, would recommend the program to a friend or relative, and believe that programs like this will benefit the environment.

In addition to helping customers conserve energy and money, AMI provides a host of other benefits to the utility and its customers, including faster and more accurate detection of power outages, faster activation of electric service, and no estimated bills.