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Enviros Call on BPU to Promote Energy Efficiency To Prepare for Future Extreme Weather Including Storms Like Sandy

Date : Mon, 15 Jul 2013 12:20:54 -0400

Prepare for Future Extreme Weather Including Storms Like Sandy

For Immediate Release

July 15, 2013

Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Enviros Call on BPU to Promote Energy Efficiency To Prepare for Future Extreme Weather Including Storms Like Sandy

Groups Intervene in BPU Rate Case Proceedings

Environmental groups are calling on the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to require more energy efficiency programs in the wake of extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and to protect against these storm events in the future.Eastern Environmental Law Center is representing the Sierra Club and New Jersey Environmental Federation in the utility rate case currently before the BPU to request that PSE&G avoid future storm costs and improve resiliency for the next storm by promoting energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy now.The environmental groups support utilities undertaking major updates to their underlying infrastructure in the wake of the extreme weather events, and to do so responsibly.In March the BPU ordered PSE&G to provide sufficient detail to evaluate rate increases to cover the storm mitigation and underlying infrastructure improvements.

"We are intervening in this case to try to get BPU to do the job they should be doing all along, making our grid system more resilient to future storms.We can do this through energy efficiency, distributive generation, and renewable energy.We will save rate payer money, reduce greenhouse gases, create jobs, protect the environment and better prepare our state for the next storm," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

Investing in energy efficiency will not only save energy resources but save money and better prepare us for the next storm.Energy efficiency can reduce the need for new expensive transmission lines, substations, and other distribution infrastructure, making the grid less vulnerable to falling trees and flooding.This would save ratepayer money and have less of an environmental impact on sensitive features such as wetlands and streams.Smart grid and distributed generation technology make the grid less vulnerable to circuit outages.Clean energy mitigates the impacts of future storms by reducing carbon pollution in our atmosphere, lessening the future impacts of climate change.Distributed generation can be tied to energy storage systems such as battery backup systems and renewable systems.Focusing only on physical protection does not address the broader problems with our energy delivery system, but reducing demand begins to work on those issues.

"We are simply asking BPU follow the law by requiring the utilities to provide service in a just and reasonable way that is consistent with conserving the quality of the environment by preventing pollution" said Aaron Kleinbaum, Legal Director of Eastern Environmental Law Center.

As part of the proceedings PSE&G is coming into the BPU to request $3.9 billion for improvements to the grid over the next 10 years as part of their Energy Strong program.The money would go towards projects such as relocating switching stations from flood zones and replacing low pressure gas lines in flood areas.JCP&L is currently requesting a 4.8% rate increase for improvements following Hurricane Sandy.It is over $345 million for Hurricane Sandy on top of $31 million from an earlier request.

"To date, BPU and the utilities have been more concerned about themselves than sound public policy. We're intervening because improved efficiency will not only result in cleaner air and improved public health but also financial relief for industrial and residential consumers and good jobs," said David Pringle, Campaign Director, NJ Environmental Federation.

The decisions the BPU make in these rate cases will impact New Jersey's energy future.As the BPU considers the costs of improvements to the grid from a number of recent storms, they will be deciding if we continue to depend on old, dirty and dangerous energy sources and perpetuating the life of these sources, or whether it will instead be encouraging energy efficiency and the growth of renewable sources. The Sierra Club is intervening in the case to support the use and further development of distributed generation, increasing the use of demand-side management technologies, implementation of "Smart Grid" networks, and other energy efficiency programs.

The BPU should be holding utilities accountable and requiring them to take steps to prevent that from happening again.The utilities failed to protect the power lines and electrical infrastructure in the first place and are now rebuilding key infrastructure in the same vulnerable areas.We need the BPU to provide incentives for the utilities to better protect our grid instead of rewarding poor planning with guaranteed rates of return and rate hikes.

"We the rate payers are paying for the utilities' past mistakes.Had they invested more in renewable energy, efficiency, and smart grid we would not have had the outages and problems we had.This is our chance to fix the problems and mistakes of the past to grow our economy and give us a brighter clean energy future in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2013-07-15 09:20:54

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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