PSE&G has received approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to invest about $700 million during the next four years to provide its 2.3 million customers with smart meters.

The decision clears the way for PSE&G to install a communications network for the smart meters and the smart meters themselves, said Fred Daum, executive director of customer operations.

He said smart meters take a 30-day look at the usage that a customer gets now and provides that at 15-minute intervals through the entire month. So customers can really zone in on days or times of days where there's opportunities to save money.

Potential customer benefits include less estimated bills, said Daum. So customers will get bills based on actual readings. Customers will be able to see at 15-minute intervals what the usage is and this will give the customer and call representatives the ability to work with the customer. They can lay out for the customer their usage patterns as well as opportunities to save money.

Daum said the first phase involves deploying 80,000 smart meters this year and also deploying a communications network for the entire territory. Then PSE&G will ramp up in year 2 about 300,000 meters, finishing another 1.8 million meters in years 3 and 4.

The implementation of a smart meter network is another step toward achieving Gov. Phil Murphy's clean energy vision for New Jersey. Daum said the smart meter and the customer being able to have very detailed insights into its usage is the foundation for any type of energy efficiency program and any type of savings.

"It really supports putting the power in the customer's hands to be able to manage their bill better," Daum said.

The state's second-largest electric utility, JCP&L, made its smart meter filing with the state BPU in August and is in the review process. Mark Durbin, the company's senior communications consultant, said smart meters will allow utilities to have the capability to respond to outages more quickly. Durbin said they will be able to tell which homes are without power without necessarily needing a reported outage from the customer.

JCP&L's filing includes a three-year deployment schedule from 2023-2025 with 1.3 million meters ultimately being installed.

Durbin said JCP&L's affiliated utilities in Pennsylvania have deployed smart meters while affiliated utilities in Ohio are in the process of installing them.

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