Credit: (AP Photo / Gerry Broome)
Energy saving smart meter

Jersey Central Power & Light now has permission to spend $ 433 million over the next six years to install smart meters in the homes and businesses of 1.1 million customers.

As a result of the 5-0 vote, the State Board of Public Services agreed on Wednesday to allow the state’s second-largest power company to begin installing technology known as advanced metering technology starting next year. Smart meters create an integrated two-way communication network that allows customers to make more informed decisions about how and when they use energy.

“This is a very significant development,” said BPU Commissioner Bob Gordon, referring to the board’s actions.

The technology, which is widely used in the rest of the country, is able to lower customers ’bills, allowing them to reduce energy consumption at times when electricity prices are highest, as well as speed up recovery during massive power outages.

They are a “fact of life” elsewhere in the United States

“Smart meters are a fact of life in much of the country,” said Doug O’Malley, director of the New Jersey Environmental Department, a group that has been pushing the state to speed up the introduction of the technology. “Smart meters are crucial for greening the electricity grid, but also for utilities to know when a power outage is going on.”

JCP&L expects to install the technology in customers ’homes in stages over three years, installing approximately 400,000 smart meters a year, according to Chris Honig, a utility spokesman. The utility company predicts a six-year deployment of the program – one year to prepare the program; three years for meter installation and two years for engineering work – it will cost about $ 433 million with $ 360 million in capital expenditures and $ 73 million in operating and maintenance costs.

Customers who want to keep their current meter will be charged $ 15 per month. The cost of removing an existing smart meter for those who have it will be $ 44.46.

In the short term, customers will not see an increase in bills. Approving the program, the council postponed the recovery of costs until the next base rate case, which is expected to take place next year. According to a statement from JCP&L, the program could have an estimated maximum subsequent impact on residential customer accounts throughout the deployment period of approximately $ 1.42, or 1.3% of the current average monthly bill.

Other state power companies are also moving to smart meter technology. Rockland Electric, the state’s smallest utility, has already installed the technology for its 66,000 customers. Public Service Electric & Gas received approval for a $ 707 million four-year program in January 2021, and Atlantic City Electric will begin installing its $ 212 million smart meter program later this year.

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