by Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight.com
The regional operator of the nation’s largest power grid yesterday approved a $1.2 billion transmission project by Public Service Electric & Gas, the latest in a series of upgrades to its system sought by the state’s largest utility.
The project is one of many approved by PJM Interconnection that will require a $4.6 billion investment by utilities serving more than 61 million customers in 13 states. It continues a trend to upgrade the system used to deliver electricity from power plants to customers, a development that has led to $28.9 billion being invested in the power grid since 2000.
Those transmission projects have generated heated controversy, including some in New Jersey, primarily because residents oppose upgrades to the transmission lines in their neighborhoods. What's more, critics argue that the projects are not needed, with the state moving to more forms of distributed generation, such as solar power.
PJM argued otherwise.
“With more than 20,000 megawatts of generation retiring in the PJM region and new gas plants being built in various locations to replace them, it’s essential for the transmission system to keep pace,’’ said Terry Boston, president and chief executive officer of PJM. One megawatt is enough to supply power to about 1,000 homes.
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