New Yorkers’ relationship with Con Edison will change dramatically in the coming years as the company outfits all of its electric and gas customers with smart meters.
Con Edison’s smart meters will give its customers — and the company — real-time data about electricity and natural gas use. Monitoring apps hooked into the meters could let you know when your spouse turns on the dishwasher, or when your kid cranks up the air conditioning.
Con Edison lags in this technology. About half of American homes already have electric smart meters. New York and Los Angeles are the last of the 10 biggest US cities where smart meters aren’t used extensively.
Con Ed expects to install 3.6 million electric smart meters and 1.2 million gas meters, state documents show. At Con Ed’s annual shareholder meeting May 16, CEO John McAvoy discussed the company’s planned $1.4 billion smart meter investment.
McAvoy noted that a five-year smart meter installation program will begin in 2017. The technology will let customers integrate solar energy, and will offer real-time billing information based on actual energy use. The automated meters also will mean faster repairs during power outages, and enhance efficiency of the electric distribution system.
The new meters “will fundamentally transform Con Edison’s relationship with its customers by helping them become more active energy consumers,” the company says. “The initiative will provide customers with the information necessary to help manage their energy usage, control costs and help the environment.”
The meters will also help the growth of solar and other technology that lets Con Ed business and residential customers generate their own power. As that technology expands, Con Ed will need to do a better job managing its power grid. Having real-time data from its customers will be a help.
Smart meter data will also give Con Edison a new line of business — selling data about its customers’ energy use.
In a filing with the Public Service Commission in August, Con Edison asked permission to sell the data to community choice aggregators. [It’s so hard to avoid jargon like “community choice aggregators” when writing about this subject.] Community choice aggregators are groups of electric customers who have banded together to share a community solar project, or buy electricity from some source other than Con Edison, such as an energy service company.
The first smart meters are to be installed in mid-2017 in Westchester County and Staten Island. They’ll start to appear in Brooklyn and Manhattan in 2018, and in Queens and the Bronx in 2019.