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Pearl River, N.Y.-based Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. (O&R) has begun a three-year, $7.3 million smart grid pilot program. According to the company, the program is designed to improve overall electric system reliability for more than 25,000 O&R customers.

The project focuses on 14 circuits that serve all or part of the following Rockland County communities: Suffern, Spring Valley, Chestnut Ridge, Monsey, New Square, Kaser, New Hempstead, Nanuet, Tallman, Montebello, New City, Bardonia, West Nyack and Nyack. The utility will equip those circuits with smart grid communication switches and other intelligent devices.

"Smart grid technology helps us operate the electric system more efficiently than ever before,” says O&R President and CEO John McAvoy. “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."

O&R says the project further benefits New York customers because it permits the utility 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 initiatives 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 Co. 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.

O&R says 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.



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