Congressional Leaders Discuss Upgrades to the Power Grid

October 22, 2013 | Politics
Congressman Donald Payne Jr. joined his colleagues at PSE&G's Newark headquarters to introduce the Smart Grid Study Act, which would examine how the nation can strengthen the power grid in preparation for future natural disasters.

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

It’s been almost a year since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the Jersey Shore and flooded towns like Moonachie and Little Ferry, but people vividly remember high water and no power.

“I think if there’s anything they can do to ensure residents and business won’t be without power for such a long time. That’s a good investment. There was lot of food and productivity and all,” said Janet of Cresskill.

Congressional leaders agree and today joined together at PSE&G’s Newark headquarters to introduce the Smart Grid Study Act. The goal? To examine how the nation can strengthen and upgrade the power grid to prevent against natural disasters and protect against cyber attacks.

“The study will look at the best practices and the new technology that make our resiliency much better. I think that coming through Sandy, some of our utilities did very well in terms of getting us back up based on the amount of destruction we had, but there are better practices, new technology that can reroute electrical current around the problem,” Congressman Donald Payne Jr. said.

Payne introduced the act. The 18-month study by the National Research Council is expected to cost $2.1 million, money already available within the Department of Homeland Security. Payne says the measure gained bipartisan and regional support.

“Some of you may say to yourselves well in the aftermath of the shutdown, dare I mention the word after three weeks or so, is there still any bipartisanship left and I would say there’s a lot of bipartisanship,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.

“Like other natural disasters, this is the best way to remember, is to draw the right lessons. By making the infrastructure systems smarter, stronger, more resilient we can be better prepared for the next storm,” said Congressman Leonard Lance.

“Of the $65 billion in damages that occurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy power outages amounted to $14 billion and $26 billion in cost. We cannot afford to allow such vulnerabilities to remain,” said Rep. Yvette Clark of New York.

During Superstorm Sandy, 1.9 million PSE&G customers lost power.

“Well I think the big lesson learned is just really what everyone wants to hear about is what can we do to better communicate to customers? We really need to be better. I think the industry learned that lesson very well during Sandy and so we’re trying to find better ways to do that,” said PSE&G President and COO Ralph LaRossa.

The congressional leaders say they’re committed to ensuring the bill advances and gets passed.