FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) will file a new infrastructure improvement program with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) that would strengthen the backbone of its local electric system and provide the foundation for smart grid capabilities in the future. Known as EnergizeNJ, the five-year, $935 million proposal includes key investments in grid modernization, system resiliency and substation modernization, and represents the largest infrastructure upgrade investment in company history.
"EnergizeNJ reaffirms our commitment to safe, affordable and reliable electric service into the future, ensuring our customers receive the service they expect and deserve from a modernized electric system," says Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L. "This plan represents a transformational upgrade of our electric grid infrastructure, using modern technology and smart devices to help reduce the size and duration of outages."
EnergizeNJ builds upon system enhancements completed since the BPU approved the company's Reliability Plus plan in 2019. To date, that program has resulted in improved outage restoration times for customers in areas where smart technology was installed and prevented or reduced the length of outages by millions of minutes, cumulatively. Learn more about how customers have benefited from Reliability Plus.
EnergizeNJ will offer more customer benefits through key investments that include:
- Upgrading more than 600 miles of overhead power lines with more robust wiring that supports increased capacity and added resistance to high-impact storms.
- Replacing about 46 miles of aging underground lines with modern and more protected wiring.
- Installing 2,175 new TripSaver devices across 500 JCP&L circuits. These programmable devices work like a circuit breaker in a home with the added benefit of automatically re-energizing a power line within seconds to keep power safely flowing to customers, reducing the size and duration of outages.
- Standardizing service voltage across JCP&L's footprint, allowing for additional circuits to be connected as a backup in case of issues with a given circuit.
- Upgrading 18 substations to support additional backup power feeds that will help keep the lights on for customers if wires or equipment on their regular line are damaged or need to be taken out of service, as well as increase overall system capacity.
- Installing modernized protective devices and upgrading various substation components.
- Enhancing equipment at central New Jersey coastal substations with more protective housing to lessen the effects of the increased salt in the environment.
- Purchasing additional mobile substations to provide redundancy and emergency back-up in the event of significant power outages.
As New Jersey moves to increase clean energy resources, the upgrades and increased capacity will accommodate the connection of additional resources, such as solar development and the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The overall program helps ensure the grid is prepared for the transition to New Jersey's clean energy future.
Locations for the EnergizeNJ work are based on a review of historical outage data across JCP&L's 13-county service area to identify the areas that stand to benefit most from upgraded power lines and new technology.
If approved, the typical JCP&L residential customer using 783 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, whose bill is currently $116.88, could expect to see a total increase of approximately $4.16, or 3.6%, on their monthly electric bill over the course of the five-year plan. The rate adjustments would take place incrementally, with seven rate adjustments ranging from approximately $0.10 to $0.99. JCP&L's residential rates remain the lowest among New Jersey's four regulated electric distribution companies.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Interruption Cost Estimate tool, the $935 million EnergizeNJ proposal is expected to deliver an estimated $3.08 billion return on investment in electric service reliability benefits to JCP&L customers by helping prevent non-storm-related outages and expediting power restoration during significant storm events.
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