Madison Council Considers Automated Meter System to Reduce Energy Costs
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 • 6:40am
MADSION, NJ – The Borough Council heard a detailed presentation on automated meter systems and solar rates at its June 11 meeting.
“There are direct financial benefits,” Assistant Borough Administrator Jim Burnet said. The automated system would streamline data collection, eliminate the time spent reading meters at people’s homes and provide equitable billing. The projected cost is $2 million, but the borough would see savings of $622,000 annually, he estimated. The plan could either lower the utility rate or be put towards property tax relief.
Burnet said this would be a huge benefit to residents, as the utility office, which would be located in Borough Hall, could identify when a home might be without power and could efficiently take care of several homes in the same neighborhood. “People can opt out of the program,” he said, “and would not be connected to the communication platform.” There would be a surcharge, however, for individual meter readings.
Councilman Vincent Esposito, who chairs the utilities committee, said that residents would also be encouraged to lower their rate of use for lights and electronics during peak periods, such as between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the hottest days.
The presentation also covered solar electric rates. Betsy Uhlman and Andy Bennett of the Environmental Commission said that Madison is behind neighboring towns in the use of solar installations. They urged the council to consider a rate structure that would encourage residential use. Benefits of an average solar installation include a savings of $60 a year in peak demand charges, reducing the load on infrastructure when demand is high and improving the community’s "green" image.
New Jersey is considered number two in the country in terms of sustainable initiatives. Burnet said an RFP would go out in eight weeks, with responses due 60 days later. He will follow up the report with recommendations from the committee, which includes consulting engineer Curt Wilson, Mike Piano, Bob Vogel, Sal Debiasse and Jim Sanderson.
In other council business, Borough Engineer Vogel discussed a resolution for a Complete Streets Policy. A New Jersey policy adopted in 2009 set standards for funded roads. It would include a Master Plan, Bicycle Route Plan, Traffic Calming Guidelines and Sidewalk Plan.
“Our Master Plan has all these components,” Vogel said. “This would be an easy step to make.” He said aid from the state could be available by adopting the policy.
“The days of paving for cars are long gone,” Mayor Robert Conley said of the trend towards pedestrian safety.
The council also adopted a resolution to urge Morris County to reduce the speed limit on Park Avenue from 35 to 30 miles per hour. Vogel said the county wants higher speeds for higher volumes on what are considered arterial roads. But some council members said the building of office complexes near residential areas is creating a dangerous traffic situation. Vogel recommended traffic calming measures, striping and narrow lanes.
In addition to resolutions, the council recognized the Madison Ambulance Volunteer Corp for its community efforts during the late October snowstorm, providing shelter to residents who lost heat and electric during and after the storm.
The council and the public saw a presentation by Patrol Officer Chad Rybka regarding the “Every 15 Minutes” program, focused on drunk driving with a simulated crash. The program, which took place at Madison High School, engaged the police, fire department, a helicopter and students and parents to bring home the reality of dangerous driving and irresponsible behavior.
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