New technology will make it easier for the electric utility to know when your power is out and when it clicks back on.
Atlantic City Electric and Jersey Central Power & Light say they are about to deploy so-called smart meters, technology that they say will help shorten the duration of outages.
ACE, whose service area includes parts of southern Ocean County, will begin swapping out meters for its nearly 565,000 South Jersey customers starting in September, a process that will continue through 2024.
JCP&L, which covers most of Monmouth and Ocean counties, said it will begin installing more than 1.1 million smart meters to homes and businesses starting in 2023, with the majority of customers receiving a smart meter by 2026.
“Once the network is fully operational, customers will have greater control over their energy use so they can make more informed decisions about how they manage their energy expenses,” said Marlon Bell-Izzard, senior vice president and chief customer officer for Pepco Holdings, Atlantic City Electric’s parent company, in a statement. “Customers also will enjoy enhanced reliability, and when a power outage does occur, we will have the data necessary to restore power quicker than every before.”
So just what are smart meters?
They are different from traditional electric meters and allow for two-way electronic communication between the meter and the utility’s systems. They enable, among other things, automated meter reading. It helps to ensure accurate billing each month by virtually eliminating estimated readings, JCP&L says.
How do they help with outage restoration?
Right now, customers who lose power are asked to call the utility to help identify the location of damage to the system, especially during a storm, Atlantic City Electric said. With a smart meter, the utility can determine if a customer’s electricity is out, leading to a quicker restoration of service. It also tell them when your power is back on, something that now requires a phone call.
What if I don’t want a smart meter?
You can opt out, but be prepared to pay more. Atlantic City Electric and JCP&L say they will charge you $15 a month if you want a regular meter. If you want to go back to a traditional meter after a smart meter is installed, JCP&L will charge you $44.46. Atlantic City Electric will charge $45 to swap you back to a conventional meter, a spokesman said.
What else can a smart meter do?
You’ll be able to track your energy consumption to help manage your electricity costs and reduce energy usage. Smart meter also can connect customers to clean energy alternatives, such as Iinstalling solar energy, participating in energy efficiency programs and accessing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
David P. Willis: [email protected]