PSE&G Will Invest in Infrastructure in New Jersey

Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) on Jan. 22 announced that it would make substantial investments in energy infrastructure and efficiency initiatives to create much-needed jobs and boost New Jersey's ailing economy.

In a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state's largest utility is seeking approval to spend $698 million in accelerated investments in electric and gas distribution system capital projects. A second filing seeks approval for the company to spend an additional $190 million to encourage conservation and create green jobs. If approved, both initiatives would create nearly 1,700 jobs.

"PSE&G's proposals are in direct response to Gov. Jon Corzine's call for utilities to invigorate the economy as part of his Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan announced in October 2008," said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and chief operating officer.

LaRossa said that the utility will make every attempt to use local suppliers and contractors for these programs, in addition to its own skilled workforce.

Under the $698-million Capital Infrastructure Investment Program, the utility proposes to spend $406 million in electric system capital improvements and $292 million in gas system investments during the next two years. The investment includes $62 million for street light replacement and efficiency improvements at PSE&G facilities. These accelerated investments in the utility's electric and gas distribution systems will ensure that the company's systems, many of which are in mature communities, continue to provide safe and reliable service.

Among the proposed electric infrastructure investments are the replacement of aged underground cable facilities, network transformers and relays, and the upgrading of overhead wire, cable and transformers.

Gas infrastructure investments include replacing and reinforcing aging gas cast iron and bare steel mains and services, purchasing specialized construction equipment, and upgrading meter and regulator stations.

An additional project would replace less efficient mercury vapor municipal street lighting with more efficient induction fluorescent lighting and install efficiency improvements at PSE&G's facilities. These investments will provide employment opportunities for N.J. contractors, equipment suppliers, retail establishments, and material suppliers and will also lower costs for municipalities.

About 985 skilled jobs, including an estimated 720 contractor positions, would be created in New Jersey during the next two years from this accelerated capital investment. PSE&G proposes to recover the costs of the programs through an annual adjustment to electric and gas rates, which would not exceed 1 percent.

PSE&G proposes to spend an additional $190 million during the next two years in an energy efficiency stimulus initiative that greatly expands an existing program, approved by the board last year, to provide energy and money saving measures directly to families and businesses.

The Economic Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program filing was made under New Jersey's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) legislation, which encourages utilities to invest in conservation and energy efficiency programs as part of its regulated business. PSE&G has requested that the board approve both the infrastructure and energy efficiency filings by April 1. The projects will be implemented shortly after the approvals.