PSE&G Plans For Future Storms [AUDIO]
Since Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey and knocked out power to millions of homes and businesses, the state's utilities have been faced with tough questions about what they can do to protect customers in the face of future weather disasters. One utility has responded with a comprehensive and pricey plan.
Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) proposed an investment of nearly $4 billion over the next 10 years to protect and strengthen its systems against "increasingly frequent weather conditions."
"PSE&G has been operating for more than 100 years, and we've had three of the most historic storms in our company's history in the last two years," explained company spokesperson Jennifer Kramer.
The project would include protecting stations from storm surges, strengthening distribution lines and making it easier to restore power to customers.
Two million PSE&G electric customers lost power during Sandy. If the proposed upgrades were in place, PSE&G said about 800,000 customers would have remained online and restoration times for everyone else would have been reduced.
"PSE&G has been recognized repeatedly for providing safe, highly reliable service," said Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo. "But reliability is no longer enough; we must also focus on the resiliency of our systems to withstand natural disasters."
Izzo described the proposal as an investment in the company's customers and an investment in the state. PSE&G handles power from Gloucester to Passaic counties.
More importantly, it is expected that customers' rates would not be affected much by the move. A company analysis found the average $2,400 paid by current customers would be the same price tag in 2018.
Kramer added, "If we make these investments now, we can do so without charging our customers more, and we can put thousands of people to work."
According to PSE&G, the proposal would create 5,800 direct and indirect jobs.
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), New Jersey's other major force in keeping the lights on, said it is working on a plan of its own to harden its infrastructure. Sandy and the following nor'easter resulted in 1.3 million JCP&L outages.