PSE&G to File with Federal Agency, Bulk Up Gas and Power Grids

March 6, 2013 – In The News
NJ Spotlight

Public Service Electric & Gas is looking to upgrade its system for delivering electricity to customers, saying it will ask a federal agency to approve $1.5 billion worth of new transmission projects.

The investments in the transmission grid come on top of other filings the utility has made to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, including a $3.9 billion spending plan filed last month to make its distribution system, which delivers electricity and gas to homeowners and businesses, more resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The utility also is seeking approval to spend $883 million to promote the development of solar systems in the state.

The utility’s customers will ultimately pay for all of the upgrade costs. PSE&G executives say electric bills will remain essentially flat, at least as far as the $3.9 billion spending program is concerned, because other surcharges customers have paid for the past 15 years will no longer be collected in the next few years. Low natural gas prices also will keep electric and gas bills lower than in the past. The state currently has some of the highest electric costs in the nation.

Steven Goldenberg, an attorney representing the trade group New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, challenges that view. “In their world, there is never a rate decrease, “ he said. “Anytime there is a little daylight when costs could drop for ratepayers, the utility finds creative new ways to hold costs captive.’’

PSE&G executives disagreed. “We try to align our interests with policymakers,’’ they said. “It’s not going to be a tremendous impact on customers.’’