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Op-Ed: New Jersey Needs Energy Infrastructure That Everyone Can Rely On

State officials should support enhancements that make our energy more resilient and reliable like natural gas

Phil Beachem
Phil Beachem

Six years ago last week, Superstorm Sandy caused irreparable damage to New Jersey and the region. That storm and the severe storms we have seen since remind us of the need to ensure that our energy infrastructure can withstand these threats and mitigate the impacts of future storms. Losing electricity for days, even weeks in some cases, was detrimental to residents and businesses across the state as families huddled together. Power outages cost New Jersey families millions a year.

While storms have continued to pound the region’s infrastructure in recent years, natural gas continued to be reliable during each weather event, and enhancing that system will ensure resiliency for the future. Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene had no major impact on natural-gas electricity generation systems in the Northeast region.

In fact, in the direct aftermath of Sandy, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) reported that their services continued without interruption through the event. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that Irene and Sandy “did not have a major impact on natural gas infrastructure and supplies in the Northeast,” a testament to the reliability and durability of natural-gas infrastructure.

After the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, many homes and businesses in the region installed permanent standby generators that run reliably in the event of a power outage. These generators are powered by natural gas and ready for future storms. In fact, New Jersey continues to develop a diverse energy portfolio and natural gas needs to be part of that mix.

Getting the mix right

New Jersey cannot take an “all eggs in one basket” approach when it comes to energy. Natural gas should be one part of our energy mix which will include renewables and other clean sources. Many New Jersey residents and the industry have already realized the clear benefits of natural gas as a reliable fuel source, but it’s critical that New Jersey’s leaders do the same and support enhancement and modernization projects for our natural-gas infrastructure.

As we move closer to another cold, harsh winter, we need energy that is reliable no matter what the weather forecast is. New Jersey should support enhancements to our existing energy infrastructure, particularly those that make our energy more resilient and reliable like natural gas.

For the sake of small businesses across the state that stand to lose significant amounts of revenue through power outages, families who need electricity to meet their daily needs, and critical healthcare facilities that need to keep the power on, New Jersey residents deserve a smarter, more reliable energy infrastructure no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.

Phil Beachem is the president of NJ Alliance for Action.

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