AC Electric gets approval from BPU to build Smart Energy Network

Utility says project will create smarter, more resilient energy infrastructure and minimize impacts of more ever-increasing storms

Atlantic City Electric received approval from the N.J. Board of Public Utilities Wednesday to build their proposed Smart Energy Network across the company’s entire South Jersey service area – a project that includes upgrading the local energy grid and installing smart meters to enhance local energy grid reliability and resiliency.

A.C. Electric officials say the Smart Energy Network is a critical component in the company’s efforts to create smarter and more resilient energy infrastructure to minimize the impacts of more frequent and powerful storms, and to connect more customers to a variety of clean energy choices, including installing solar energy, participating in robust energy efficiency programs and accessing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

A.C. Electric anticipates beginning to build the Smart Energy Network in mid-2022. Meter exchanges would occur over the course of 24 months.

A.C. Electric officials said 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 in order to achieve the reliability, resiliency and efficiency benefits while maintaining affordability. 

Building the network is expected to cost approximately $212 million, or about $4.27 on the monthly bill for the typical A.C. Electric residential customer. The company’s cost-benefit analysis shows that these costs will be offset by $415 million in significant customer and operational benefits gained through operational efficiencies, energy efficiency and demand response programs, enhanced billing operations, voltage optimization and other opportunities.

Atlantic City Electric region president Gary Stockbridge said the program will help in many ways.

“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 it will also enable much faster service restoration following powerful storms,” he said.

“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 said customers will benefit from the Smart Energy Network in several ways, including:

  • Enhanced reliability with faster and more efficient power restoration for customer homes or businesses, especially following increasingly common severe weather events;
  • Improved bill management tools and new online features will enable customers to view their daily and hourly energy usage trends to help save money and energy;
  • Programs to help customers 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 new clean energy technologies and services, including clean electric transportation, rooftop and community solar, and battery storage;
  • Better customer experience through upgraded technology will improve billing operations, nearly eliminating the need for estimated billing.      

AC Electric officials say the Smart Energy Network will allow the utility to safely restore power to customer 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 prioritize how to dispatch crews and plan restoration work, streamlining restoration efforts and restoring customers faster following major storms. 

The company said it will work closely with its customers and communities regarding the meter exchange process. The company will undertake a comprehensive customer and community outreach and education campaign to help ensure customer awareness of the planned work and the numerous benefits of the Smart Energy Network.  

The Smart Energy Network is expected to create new jobs for field technicians and support personnel for meter exchanges, as well as project management personnel and IT technicians for the installation of specialized networking equipment.