PSE&G will invest billions in electric grid reliability projects to make New Jersey's energy infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters while at the same time stimulating the economy, providing reliable service and protecting the environment.
This is according to PSE&G's chairman, president and CEO Ralph Izzo, who spoke to shareholders at the company's annual meeting.
"We have long invested in initiatives that advance New Jersey's energy and economic goals," Izzo said. "We are hard at work on many fronts- with efforts that modernize infrastructure, provide renewable and energy efficiency solutions and create jobs."
Izzo highlighted the utility's plan to make New Jersey "Energy Strong," a proposal that aims to make the state's energy infrastructure more resilient against natural disaster. PSE&G proposes investing $3.9 billion over ten years to protect critical electric and gas facilities; deploy smart grid technologies; create additional redundancy to minimize outages, strengthen poles and move some overhead lines underground. This effort would create nearly 6,000 jobs, and thanks to low commodity prices and some restructuring fees rolling off, is expected to have minimal net impact on customer bills.
"Changing weather patterns, along with an increased dependence on energy, require a re-thinking of the state's energy infrastructure," Izzo said. "We need to strengthen our system so that we're better prepared for the next Sandy or Irene, and New Jersey is better positioned for long-term economic well-being."
Superstorm Sandy was the biggest storm in PSE&G's history, causing unprecedented damage. Izzo recalled the work of PSE&G employees in the aftermath of that storm and the Nor'easter that quickly followed, saying that over a two-week period they, along with 4,000 workers from 24 states and Canada, restored power to more customers than any utility in America had done before.
PSE&G Power, the company's wholesale energy supply business, generates output from nuclear, gas, coal and oil. That fuel diversity is important, Izzo said, pointing out that the company was able to adapt to low gas prices by running its combined cycle plants more than its coal plants.
PSE&G's focus on disciplined investment and a strong balance sheet has supported a long history of paying a common dividend and enabled the recent 2-cent increase in the dividend to $1.44 per share.
Also during 2012, PSE&G brought online 400 MW of new peaking capacity in New Jersey and Connecticut; PSE&G's Hope Creek facility was recognized as one of the top-performing nuclear plants in the country and PSE&G was recognized for the fifth time in eight years as America's most reliable electric utility.