In an unprecedented show of support for PSE&G's plan to protect utility infrastructure from the ravages of extreme weather, leaders from more than 100 town and counties representing more than five million people have gone on record urging the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to approve "Energy Strong" in New Jersey. Ridgefield and Lyndhurst passed resolutions last night, bringing the total to 101 supporters.
Hearings on the company's "Energy Strong" proposal start today, with six days of hearings scheduled through March 4. Settlement talks among the parties continue as well. PSE&G submitted its proposal a little over one year ago.
"Local leaders remember clearly the devastation that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy," said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. "They understand the hardships and the costs imposed by extended outages, and they want to see steps taken to protect against the next storm."
Sandy interrupted power to close to two million PSE&G customers, who went a combined 164 million hours without electricity. Water from Irene and Sandy damaged 29 switching and substations.
"Energy Strong" is a ten-year $3.9 billion program that that would put 5,800 people to work making upgrades that would significantly reduce the number of customers who might lose power in a future storm and reduce the duration of any outages that did occur.
The proposal calls for hardening 29 substations by either erecting flood walls or raising the stations, strengthening distribution lines, deploying technologies to help restore customers more quickly, burying key segments of wires underground and protecting gas substations against flooding.
"We have put forth a robust plan to make investments that would make New Jersey's energy infrastructure more resilient for generations to come," LaRossa said. "These are investments we can make now that will avoid future hardships for our citizens, our local businesses and our most vulnerable residents - seniors."
These improvements will benefit all of PSE&G's customers and can be made with little impact on bills because of charges that are set to expire and roll off in 2014 and 2016.