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On 20th Anniversary of Northeast Blackout, PSE&G Remains Prepared to Meet Peak Summer Electric Demand

Aug. 14, 2023
Planned infrastructure investments in 2023 exceeding $3.5 billion to enhance resiliency and maintain reliability.

Public Service Electric and Gas, New Jersey’s largest utility, is well prepared to meet customer demand for safe, reliable electricity for the remainder of summer. Anticipated peak summer demand is expected to be in mid-August. August 14 will mark the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Northeast blackout. The blackout originated in Ohio, left 50 million people across the northeast without power and stopped in PSE&G's service territory. Of the 750,000 PSE&G customers that lost power that day, nearly three-quarters were back online within five hours and virtually all had service by noon the next day. Diversification and design protections helped to contain the outage, and PSE&G personnel safely reenergized the system, circuit by circuit.

Since the 2003 blackout, PSE&G has spent billions of dollars to further enhance the reliability and resiliency of its transmissions and distribution systems with the aim of leaving no one in the dark.

“PSE&G has a strong track record for providing safe, reliable utility service and this unprecedented blackout was a critical point in our industry,” said Kim Hanemann, PSE&G president and chief operating officer. “Millions of people benefited from changes to federal policy after the 2003 blackout that enabled additional necessary investment into the US transmission grid. For PSE&G, it resulted in twenty years of infrastructure investments designed to create a more reliable and resilient grid while strengthening New Jersey’s critical energy infrastructure and economy.” This year is no exception. PSE&G’s 2023 planned capital expenditures of more than $3.5 billion is the largest investment plan in the utility’s history.   

“Our investments in new infrastructure have helped us remain one of the nation’s most reliable utility companies, bringing significant benefits to PSE&G customers,” said John Latka, PSE&G senior vice president – electric transmission and distribution. “We have received numerous reliability awards and just last year for the first time ever, J.D. Power named PSE&G number one in customer satisfaction for both Residential Electric and Natural Gas Service in the East among Large Utilities.”

While advances in technology provide critical new tools, PSE&G’s most vital asset is a highly skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce. Some examples of projects completed this year that will have a big impact on electric reliability include:

  • Newark Switching Station, which is the heart of PSE&G’s Newark transmission/distribution network, services many critical customers including municipal, state and federal offices, several event venues, mass transit, multiple colleges/universities and more. The $350 million Newark Switch Rebuild Project modernized the aging infrastructure that was put into service in 1957, while also increasing reliability by redistributing crucial loads to other facilities when needed.
  • The $550 million Roseland – Pleasant Valley Project was completed in May and is one of PSE&G’s largest transmission projects to date. The 51-mile undertaking replaced older transmission facilities that were, on average, approximately 90 years old.
  • Expanding our growing 69kV network statewide. We have completed a number of substation hardening and transformer replacement projects to maintain reliability and have completed circuit upgrades to improve the reliability of 561 distribution circuits that serve over 1.1 million customers across the state.

Current Projects

Through Dec. 2023, PSE&G is also implementing a number of significant reliability projects under its $842 million Energy Strong II program including: 

  • Raising and hardening equipment in 16 stations located in flood zones.
  • Upgrading to smart grid technologies to reduce the number of people impacted by an outage (rerouting electricity quickly around problems), enable swifter deployment of repair teams and reduce outage durations.
  • Storm hardening of certain circuits to reduce power outages by adding measures such as upgraded poles and cables that are more resistant to tree and limb damage.
  • Creating an advanced distribution management system to make the system smarter, improve outage response and upgrade and secure vital communications networks 

Prepared for Additional Power Demand

This summer’s forecasted peak is 9,904 megawatts. Last year’s peak was 10,147 megawatts, set on August 9, 2022.PSE&G is prepared to deliver additional power to meet this summer’s peak load, and our utility crews are ready to respond to service interruptions should they occur. 

The utility’s rigorous preparedness program for summer includes: conducting annual hurricane and tropical storm drills; employee training; developing emergency summer operating plans and performing summer peak reliability analysis; helicopter and climbing inspections of transmission circuits; infrared inspections; audits and inventories; equipment repairs and replacements; system reinforcements, and transmission line work. We continually refine our emergency preparedness program to ensure we maintain the highest possible level of reliability for our customers.

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