Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) 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, according to the company.
“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 COO.
“The Governor has challenged utilities to do their part to make investments that will create jobs and help the state achieve its aggressive energy goals,” he added. “PSE&G is already spending $46 million to help customers conserve energy through its carbon abatement program. The proposals we filed will expand these critical initiatives so that more customers can benefit. In addition, we are accelerating planned infrastructure investments to enable the company to continue to provide safe and reliable electric and gas service to our more than 2 million customers.”
In these difficult financial times, accelerating capital investments will help improve the state’s economy by stimulating the purchase of goods and services and creating new jobs. 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.
Capital Infrastructure Investment Program
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.
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 NJ 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.