NEWARK — Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) announced plans for a $3.9 billion investment over the next ten years “to proactively protect and strengthen its electric and gas systems against increasingly frequent severe weather conditions.”
“PSE&G has been recognized repeatedly for providing safe, highly reliable service,” said Ralph Izzo, PSEG chairman and CEO. “But reliability is no longer enough; we must also focus on the resiliency of our systems to withstand natural disasters.
“It’s clear that Sandy, Hurricane Irene and the October ice storm in 2011 represent extreme weather patterns that have become commonplace,” Izzo said. “It’s equally clear that how we live and do business is so dependent on energy that any outage is hard to tolerate. Sandy was a defining event for all of us; the state’s entire energy infrastructure needs to be rethought in light of weather conditions that many predict will continue to occur.”
The utility has asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for an initial funding approval of $2.6 billion over the first five years. PSE&G says that its “Energy Strong” program will create 5,800 direct and indirect jobs and would not impact customers’ monthly bills.
Key provisions of PSE&G’s 10-year plan include:
- $1.7 billion to raise, relocate or protect all switching and substations affected by recent storms as well as those in newly designated flood zones.
- $1.04 billion to replace and modernize 750 miles of low-pressure cast iron gas mains in or near flood areas.
- $454 million to deploy smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations to increase our ability to more swiftly deploy repair teams.
- $215 million to improve pole distribution systems.
- $200 million to create redundancy in the system, reducing outages when damage occurs.
- $60 million to move 20 miles of overhead electric distribution lines underground.
- $140 million to protect 9 natural gas metering stations and a liquefied natural gas station affected by Sandy or located in flood zones.
Two million of PSE&G’s 2.2 million electric customers last power during Hurricane Sandy. The utility estimates that about 800,000 more customers would have kept power and service restoration times would have been reduced for the rest if the “Energy Strong” protections had been in place at the time of the storm.
“These investments are long overdue and have become even more important given the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.
However, the environmentalist was critical of PSE&G’s plans to continue another electrical infrastructure project that would bring a 500,000 volt transmission line from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. “We are glad they are investing the $3.9 billion but with the Susquehanna-Rosleand line it is an over $5 billion bill on rate payers,” Tittel said. “We need to cancel the Susquehanna-Roseland line which is about speculation in the energy markets versus a true improvement for grid reliability.”
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