Atlantic City Electric plans smart energy network

  • August 10, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Atlantic City Electric has been given the go-ahead by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to build a smart energy network across the company’s entire south Jersey service area.

This will include upgrading the local energy grid and installing smart meters to enhance local energy grid reliability and resiliency, and improve the user experience.

The smart energy network is a critical component in the company’s efforts to create smarter and more resilient energy infrastructure to reduce the impacts of more frequent and powerful storms, and to connect more customers to various clean energy choices, including installing solar energy, participating in robust energy efficiency programmes and accessing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

“The smart energy network is not only instrumental in providing our customers with new tools and resources to help them take control of their energy use, but will also enable much faster service restoration following powerful storms,” said Gary Stockbridge, Atlantic City Electric region president. “We will continue to keep our customers informed about our progress to install the smart energy network and look forward to bringing the benefits of the smart energy network to communities across south Jersey.”

Atlantic City Electric customers should benefit from the network in several ways, including:

  • Enhanced reliability with faster and more efficient power restoration for homes or businesses, especially following increasingly common severe weather events.
  • Improved bill management tools and new online features will enable users to view their daily and hourly energy usage trends to help save money and energy.
  • Programmes to help users take control of their energy use and reduce usage during peak savings days, earning credits on their bill and helping the environment.
  • Better integration of clean energy technologies and services, including clean electric transportation, rooftop and community solar, and battery storage.
  • Better experience through upgraded technology will improve billing operations, nearly eliminating the need for estimated billing.

The network will allow Atlantic City Electric to restore power safely to homes and businesses faster and more efficiently. In the event of a power outage, smart meters will alert the company and assist crews in identifying the cause and location of the outage.

Using real-time data, Atlantic City Electric can better prioritise how to dispatch crews and plan restoration work, streamlining restoration efforts and restoring services faster following major storms.

The utility anticipates beginning to build the network in mid-2022. Meter exchanges would occur over the course of 24 months. The company says it will work closely with its customers and communities regarding the meter exchange process. The company plans to undertake a comprehensive customer and community outreach and education campaign to help ensure awareness of the planned work and the numerous benefits of the network.

The network is expected to create jobs for field technicians and support personnel for meter exchanges, as well as project management personnel and IT technicians for the installation of networking equipment. This work will help power the state’s economic recovery and lay a foundation for building a clean energy economy in New Jersey.

Similar to other energy services and investments Atlantic City Electric makes in the local energy grid, the cost associated with the implementation of the smart energy network will be spread across the company’s customer base over a period of many years to achieve the reliability, resiliency and efficiency benefits while maintaining affordability.

Building the network is expected to cost around $212m, or about $4.27 on the monthly bill for the typical Atlantic City Electric residential customer using 680kW hours per month. The company’s cost-benefit analysis shows these costs will be offset by $415m in customer and operational benefits gained through operational efficiencies, energy efficiency and demand response programmes, enhanced billing operations, voltage optimisation, and other opportunities.