PSE&G Spends, Spends, Spends on New Transmission Infrastructure

Tom Johnson | December 8, 2017 | Energy & Environment
State’s largest utility gets the nod from PJM to shell out $170 million replacing aging infrastructure in northern New Jersey

Public Service Electric & Gas won approval this week to build two new transmission projects in northern New Jersey totaling $170 million, the latest in an aggressive capital investment program by the utility.

PJM Interconnection authorized the two projects as part of $318 million in transmission initiatives designed to ensure reliable power for the 65 million people served by the nation’s largest grid operator.

“Maintaining the reliability of the grid involves continuously reviewing the system and moving ahead with transmission projects,’’ said PJM President and CEO Andrew Otter. The 12 projects authorized included smaller upgrades costing less than $5 million.

For PSE&G, one of its projects involves rebuilding a 230-kilovolt line, including transmission towers, between Linden and Cranford to relieve circuit overloads. The five-mile, $90 million project is expected to be completed in June 2020.

The other project will replace an underground 230-kilovolt line between Cedar Grove and a substation in Totowa. The four-mile replacement will cost an estimated $80 million and be completed in June 2021.

PSE&G is embarked on an ambitious capital investment program in which it expects to spend $3.1 billion in 2017. Over a five-year period, Public Service Enterprise Group estimates it will spend $15 billion, 82 percent of which is targeted for its utility, the largest in the state.

Like many other utilities around the nation, PSE&G is making huge capital investments, partly to modernize an aging system and to a degree due to pressure from state government and others to make its system more reliable. Transmission projects are particularly lucrative because the utility earns a higher rate of return on those investments.

In October, PSE&G won approval for more than $200 million in investments for three additional transmission projects. Transmission now accounts for about 40 percent of the utility’s rate base.