by Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight.com
The state should reject out-of-hand a nearly $4 billion proposal by Public Service Electric & Gas to harden its electric and gas infrastructure, according to a coalition of consumer groups, manufacturers, and environmentalists.
In a teleconference with reporters, the New Jersey Coalition for Affordable Power ramped up the rhetoric in what is an increasingly bitter fight between the utility and interveners and others involved in a case pending before the state Board of Public Utilities.
It has put the agency in a tough predicament: It is under pressure from the governor’s office to take aggressive steps to avert the widespread outages like those that occurred during Hurricane Sandy just a year ago, which left 7 million people in the dark. At the same time, the utility’s proposal also has won backing from more than 70 municipalities, seven counties, and many major business groups. They view the proposal as a way to harden the grid and avoid the huge economic losses caused by the virtual shutdown of much of the state for weeks or more.
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