Having been hit with three major storms in the Northeast in three years, Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) has proposed a $3.9 billion, 10-year plan to strengthen its electric and gas infrastructure. The plan is dubbed “Energy Strong.”
PSE&G suffered severe outages after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and a snow and ice storm in October 2011. Now, PSE&G is asking the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for $3.9 billion to make sweeping changes to its infrastructure, including raising electric stations to prevent flooding, modernizing 750 miles of gas mains, installing smart grid technology, making pole improvements, and relocating emergency centers.
The BPU is expected to hold hearings on the proposal in early 2014, before it decides whether to approve it.
But the massiveness of the proposal and its price tag are already causing some groups to protest. After reviewing the Energy Strong proposal, the NJ Coalition for Affordable Power (NJCAP) and the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel have called on the BPU to reject the proposal.
“The conclusion we’ve reached is that PSE&G really just wants a $4 billion blank check from the people of New Jersey. We had expected better from our largest utility company in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” said Evelyn Liebman, associate state director, AARP NJ – a member of NJCAP. “PSE&G has failed to demonstrate that its Energy Strong proposal is cost-beneficial or, for that matter, will even work. It is not reasonable to expect that residential customers, who will be paying almost $120 per year in new surcharges on their bills by the end of this proposal’s sixth year, will be no better off than they were before Sandy. Energy Strong is not nearly ready for prime time, and PSE&G needs to stay at the drawing board.”
Philly Burbs reports that a typical residential electric customer, using 7,360 kWh per year would see an annual increase of $4.52 a month in the first year of the program, increasing to $60.48 in year six; and a gas heating customer using 660 therms per year would see an annual increase of $6.88 in the first year, increasing to $58.40 a year in year six.