Orange & Rockland Utilities (O&R) has begun a three-year, $7.3 million Smart Grid pilot program that will install new high-tech, computerized, operating equipment designed to improve overall electric system reliability for more than 25,000 O&R customers in 14 communities across Rockland from Suffern to Nyack.
The project centers around 14 circuits that serve all or part of the following Rockland 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 system to isolate problems on the circuits by limiting outages, repairing faults and restoring service when outages occur.
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 project further benefits O&R New York customers because it permits O&R 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.
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.
This spring, O&R installed two new Smart Grid pilot program circuits, and their 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, N.J. 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 to make them compatible with Smart Grid technology and upgrading the electric distribution system to enable it to accept Smart Grid technology.