by Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight.com
In a test of what the state will allow utilities to spend to make their systems more resilient to extreme weather, Public Service Electric & Gas will begin stating its case to spend $2.6 billion over the next five years to harden its infrastructure.
Public hearings on the proposal begin Monday in Newark at Essex Community College. The issue has aroused a great deal of interest from various sectors in the state -- from businesses, who view it as absolutely necessary, to consumer advocates, who fear it will spike what they say are already high energy bills.
Despite the controversy, there is still widespread consensus among many that the state needs to take aggressive action to prevent widespread outages, like those that occurred during Hurricane Sandy this past October, when more than 7 million people were left without power, some for more than a week at time.
PSE&G, the state’s largest gas and electric utility, was the first to submit a program to enhance its gas and electric system, filing a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities last February. The proposal initially sought to spend $3.9 billion over 10 years, addressing many of the problems that surfaced during last fall’s superstorm.