MIDDLETOWN – The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday approved Orange & Rockland’s plan to install smart electric meters and gas modules for every O&R electric service and gas customer in Orange and Sullivan counties beginning in 2018.
There are about 60 million wireless smart meters being used across the nation. O&R plans to install approximately 230,000 electric smart meters in its New York service area. It will install the communications infrastructure in Orange and Sullivan counties beginning in January 2018, while the new meters will go in during March.
O&R will replace roughly 113,000 electric meters and 42,500 gas modules over a three-year period in Orange and Sullivan counties.
More than 23,000 smart meters have already been installed in Rockland County, where the program began in June. O&R will replace approximately 116,500 electric meters in Rockland and 92,000 gas modules. The smart meters can report the exact location of individual electric service outages to O&R, eliminating the need for customer calls.
The smart meters also will greatly reduce the need for monthly meter readings at customers’ premises, meter readers, their vehicles and some of the bills they generate. And customers will be able to see where and why their energy consumption fluctuates to more easily take action to reduce their bills.
Company spokesman Mike Donovan declined to say how many meter readers will lose their jobs. But, in a statement, he did say the company will still need some, though “not the meter reading workforce we have had, which surprisingly is not very many for the amount of work they do.” The meter reader job is the entry level position at the company, and it experiences substantial turnover as employees move up.