PSE&G reaches $1.22 billion settlement with NJ BPU staff

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Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) reached a $1.22 billion settlement in its Energy Strong proposal to proactively protect and strengthen its electric and gas systems against severe weather conditions.

The stipulation, signed by the staff of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, is now being reviewed by the other parties and participants in the case and will be submitted to the BPU for review and approval.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) is a publicly traded diversified energy company with annual revenues of $10 billion. Its operating units are: PSEG Power, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) and PSEG Long Island.

In a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in February 2013, PSE&G had sought approval to invest $2.6 billion during five years to harden its electric and gas systems, with the ability to seek approval to spend an additional $1.3 billion in the following five years to complete the proposed $3.9 billion, 10-year program. The settlement culminates more than a year of public and evidentiary hearings before the BPU and negotiations with the parties.

If approved, the company will make the following investments:

·      $620 million to raise, relocate or protect 29 switching and substations that were damaged by water in recent storms.

·      $350 million to replace and modernize 250 miles of low-pressure cast iron gas mains in or near flood areas.

·      $100 million to create redundancy in the system, reducing outages when damage occurs.

·      $100 million to deploy smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations to increase our ability to more swiftly deploy repair teams.

·      $50 million to protect five natural gas metering stations and a liquefied natural gas station affected by Sandy or located in flood zones.

Although the agreement generally contemplates a three-year program, the company has the option of completing the gas main work in two years, and it has also been agreed that completing the electric and gas station work may take up to five years. Under the agreement, PSE&G will earn an authorized return on equity of 9.75 percent on the first $1 billion of investment based on an accelerated recovery mechanism. The company will seek to recover the remaining $220 million in a base rate case to be filed no later than November 1, 2017.

The impact of the $1 billion investment on the typical residential combined electric/gas customer bill is expected to be about 2 percent in 2018 which will be more than offset by transitional charges stemming from deregulation that are expiring in the same timeframe.

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