NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In the three years since Superstorm Sandy, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), New Jersey's largest utility, has made substantial progress to strengthen and protect its infrastructure against future extreme storms – replacing gas pipes, raising and rebuilding electrical substations, and adding higher voltage lines on stronger poles. This work will keep more customers in service during a storm, and restore service faster in the aftermath.
"Sandy was a storm on a huge new scale," said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and COO. "About 2 million of our 2.2 million electric customers experienced outages, and nearly half of those outages were caused by flooded switching and substations."
In the two-week period following the storm, PSE&G made 2 million electric restorations -- a record for any utility. "While we are proud of that work, Sandy upped the ante on storm preparedness and response," said LaRossa. "We had to rethink how to protect against and respond to extreme storms."
In May 2014, PSE&G received approval for its $1.22 billion Energy Strong program to protect its electric and gas systems against severe weather. To date, the utility has:
"We expect to complete our Energy Strong gas pipe replacement in the spring," said LaRossa. "With much of the engineering and procurement done on the electric side, we are ramping up our switching and substation work, and expect to have 29 stations fully protected, raised or relocated by the end of 2018."
This work has the added benefit of creating about 2,000 jobs – providing an economic boost for New Jersey. PSE&G expects that many of these jobs will be sustained well into the future. The utility recently reached an agreement in principle on its separate Gas System Modernization Program to expedite the replacement of 510 miles of aging gas pipes with strong, durable plastic piping, which is much less likely to have leaks and release methane gas.
Keeping customers informed
Taking its cue from customers, the utility offers a number of communication options so they can stay safe and informed before, during and after storms.
Today PSE&G has 60,000 Facebook followers and 90,000 people following it on Twitter – the largest Twitter following of any utility in the country. The company also recently launched the Energize! blog which is devoted to issues important to customers. In addition, PSE&G offers two-way texting, and an enhanced online outage map, updated every 15 minutes, where customers can find information specific to outages in their area, including estimated restoration times.
To help its youngest customers prepare for storms, the company partnered with Sesame Street to create the "Let's Get Ready!" emergency preparedness program and app for young children.
PSE&G has become a noted leader in customer communications among utilities. Just last week, the utility was honored with the ReliabilityOne national award for 2015 Outstanding Customer Engagement, which recognizes the company for providing real-time access to information across various communications channels – during both blue-sky days and major events.
Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) is New Jersey's oldest and largest regulated gas and electric delivery utility, serving nearly three-quarters of the state's population. PSE&G is the winner of the ReliabilityOne Award for superior electric system reliability. PSE&G is a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) (NYSE:PEG), a diversified energy company.
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SOURCE Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G)