Thirty-two municipalities and Hudson County have approved resolutions supporting “Energy Strong” – Public Service Electric and Gas Company's (PSE&G) proposal to fortify its electric and gas distribution systems to better withstand powerful storms and natural disasters.
Leaders from towns in seven counties said infrastructure upgrades are necessary to reduce the threat of extended service interruptions like those that resulted from Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. PSE&G’s “Energy Strong” proposal would invest $3.9 billion in the utility’s distribution system over 10 years to reduce the number and duration of power outages caused by severe weather.
“We are pleased that so many communities have expressed support for our plan to make New Jersey Energy Strong,” said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and chief operating officer. “These municipal leaders know all too well the impact of extended power outages and share our belief that action is needed now to protect utility systems from natural disasters.”
“This year we will spend about $1.8 billion in electric and gas reliability upgrades,” LaRossa said. “These investments have helped PSE&G earn its reputation as one of the nation’s most reliable electric utilities. But the extremes in weather we’ve experienced the past two years require new, extraordinary measures to reinforce our systems before the next Sandy strikes.”
PSE&G’s proposal includes: protecting more than 40 utility installations that were impacted by storm surges, adding backup distribution lines, making the electric grid smarter to help identify problems and facilitate service restoration, strategically burying some wires underground and modernizing the gas distribution system.
“When Sandy’s storm surge inundated electric switching stations, it plunged Woodbridge into darkness,” said Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. “That was a real hardship on our community and affected many others. For example, the nearby gasoline refinery lost power. It makes sense to raise the substation that flooded -- the sooner, the better.” New Milford Mayor Ann Subrizi said the suffering that Irene and Sandy brought to her town made it clear that action must be taken.
“We are pleased that PSE&G wants to safeguard the installations impacted by Irene as well as Sandy,” Subrizi said. “Residents lost power, contents of refrigerators and contact with loved ones. Businesses had to shut down for days on end – losing business they can’t make back. Protecting the New Milford substation against future flooding makes sense and we urge the BPU to move forward in a thoughtful but speedy fashion so this vital work can get started.”