Verona - Cedar Grove Patch

PSE&G Officials Refute Energy Lobbyist Letter

Utility says costs for electric, gas customers will drop not spike under proposed plan.

Verona–Cedar Grove Patch — Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By Jack Durschlag

Public Service Electric & Gas officials Wednesday refuted accusations contained in a letter from five of the state's most prominent lobbying groups Tuesday to the state Board of Public Utilities concerning its plan to spend nearly $4 billion to strengthen its power grid.

The company says the plan will prevent widespread outages during major storms like last fall's Super Storm Sandy. However, the lobbying groups disagreed, telling the board the proposed plan would spike utility bills for both residential and industrial customers.

The lobbying groups included AARP, New Jersey Citizen Action, the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, and NJ Public Interest Research Group.

In a press release, the company said the typical residential customer who receives both electric and gas from the utility is projected to pay about $12 less per year in 2018 than today if the utility gets approval for every project in its "Energy Strong" program to upgrade its electric and gas distribution systems. The bill impact assumes that natural gas costs remain low and PSE&G supply costs are at current levels.

"An energy infrastructure that is better able to withstand storms like Sandy and other natural disasters can help save NJ businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and protect our families from the impact of extended power outages," PSE&G Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo said in the release.

In a Wednesday response, the utility detailed the proposed impact on customers if the first part of the $3.9 billion investment is approved.

According to the company, a typical PSE&G residential combined electric and gas customer is projected to see their annual bill drop about $12, or $1 per month in 2018. Bills will fluctuate slightly between now and then, officials said.

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