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Newark, N.J.-based Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) has proposed to invest $3.9 billion during the next 10 years to protect and strengthen its electric and gas systems against severe weather conditions, such as those experienced during Hurricane Sandy.

Key provisions of the utility's 10-year plan include $454 million to deploy smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations; $200 million to create redundancy in the system, reducing outages when damage occurs; and $60 million to move 20 miles of overhead electric distribution lines underground.

In a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, PSE&G asked for initial funding approval of $2.6 billion during the first five years. Since some of the improvements will take more than five years to implement, the utility says it may seek approval to spend an additional $1.3 billion in the following five years to complete the program.

According to the utility, PSE&G’s “Energy Strong” program would include protecting more than 40 utility installations from storm surges, strengthening distribution lines, making the electric grid smarter and thereby easier to restore customers, and modernizing the gas distribution system.

“PSE&G has been recognized repeatedly for providing safe, highly reliable service,” says Ralph Izzo, chairman and CEO of PSEG, PSE&G's parent company. “But reliability is no longer enough; we must also focus on the resiliency of our systems to withstand natural disasters.

“It’s clear that [Hurricane] Sandy, Hurricane Irene and the October ice storm in 2011 represent extreme weather patterns that have become commonplace,” Izzo adds. “It’s equally clear that how we live and do business is so dependent on energy that any outage is hard to tolerate. Sandy was a defining event for all of us; the state’s entire energy infrastructure needs to be rethought in light of weather conditions that many predict will continue to occur.”

During Hurricane Sandy, 2 million of PSE&G’s 2.2 million electric customers lost power due to damaged switching and substations, damaged poles and electrical equipment, and downed trees that brought down wires. With the protections outlined in the filing in place, the utility says about 800,000 of those affected by a storm like Sandy would have remained with power and restoration times for the rest would have been reduced.



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