JCP&L files ‘transformational’ energy infrastructure proposal with BPU

Energize NJ, a five-year, $935 million plan, aims to both strengthen backbone of electric system and provide foundation for smart grid capabilities in future

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Saying it will enable the company to make key investments in grid modernization, system resiliency and substation modernization, JCP&L last week filed ‘Energize NJ,’ a five-year, $935 million proposal with the N.J. Board of Public Utilities – the largest infrastructure upgrade investment in company history.

JCP&L President Jim Fakult said the program would be a transformational moment for the areas it services – one that would strengthen the backbone of its local electric system and provide the foundation for smart grid capabilities in the future.

“EnergizeNJ reaffirms our commitment to safe, affordable and reliable electric service into the future, ensuring our customers receive the service they expect and deserve from a modernized electric system,” he said. “This plan represents a transformational upgrade of our electric grid infrastructure, using modern technology and smart devices to help reduce the size and duration of outages.”

EnergizeNJ builds upon system enhancements completed since the BPU approved the company’s Reliability Plus plan in 2019. To date, that program has resulted in improved outage restoration times for customers in areas where smart technology was installed and prevented or reduced the length of outages by millions of minutes, cumulatively. Learn more about how customers have benefited from Reliability Plus.

EnergizeNJ will offer more customer benefits through key investments that include:

· Upgrading more than 600 miles of overhead power lines with more robust wiring that supports increased capacity and added resistance to high impact storms;

· Replacing approximately 46 miles of aging underground lines with modern and more protected wiring;

· Installing 2,175 new TripSaver devices across 500 JCP&L circuits. These programmable devices work like a circuit breaker in a home with the added benefit of automatically reenergizing a power line within seconds to keep power safely flowing to customers, reducing the size and duration of outages;

· Standardizing service voltage across JCP&L’s footprint, allowing for additional circuits to be connected as a backup in case of issues with a given circuit;

· Upgrading 18 substations to support additional backup power feeds that will help keep the lights on for customers if wires or equipment on their regular line are damaged or need to be taken out of service, as well as increase overall system capacity;

· Installing modernized protective devices and upgrading various substation components;

· Enhancing equipment at central New Jersey coastal substations with more protective housing to lessen the effects of the increased salt in the environment;

· Purchasing additional mobile substations to provide redundancy and emergency backup in the event of significant power outages.

As New Jersey moves to increase clean energy resources, the upgrades and increased capacity will accommodate the connection of additional resources, such as solar development and the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, JCP&L officials said.

The overall program aims to ensure the grid is prepared for the transition to New Jersey’s clean energy future, they said.

Locations for the EnergizeNJ work are based on a review of historical outage data across JCP&L’s 13-county service area to identify the areas that stand to benefit most from upgraded power lines and new technology.

If approved, the typical JCP&L residential customer using 783 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, whose bill is currently $116.88, could expect to see a total increase of 3 approximately $4.16, or 3.6%, on their monthly electric bill over the course of the five-year plan.

The rate adjustments would take place incrementally, with seven rate adjustments ranging from approximately $0.10 to $0.99. JCP&L’s residential rates remain the lowest among New Jersey’s four regulated electric distribution companies.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Interruption Cost Estimate tool, the $935 million EnergizeNJ proposal is expected to deliver an estimated $3.08 billion return on investment in electric service reliability benefits to JCP&L customers by helping prevent nonstorm-related outages and expediting power restoration during significant storm events.

JCP&L, a subsidiary of Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp., serves 1.1 million customers in the counties of Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.