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Sierra Club Calls for Energy Efficiency and Renewables in PSE&G Energy Strong Rate Case

Date : Thu, 31 Oct 2013 12:09:20 -0400

Renewables in PSE&G Energy Strong Rate Case

For Immediate Release

October 31, 2013

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

Sierra Club Calls for Energy Efficiency and Renewables in PSE&G Energy Strong Rate Case

As part Energy Strong, PSE&G is requesting almost $4 billion for grid hardening projects.This is the biggest rate increase in history.This will have long term consequences for the rate payers and energy policy in New Jersey.Sierra Club is 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.Promoting energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy now will help us avoid future storm costs and improves resiliency. According to PSE&G's own reports Energy Strong will only benefit 38% of their customers.It will either prevent outages of lessen the time of outages for a limited number of folks, while 62% will see no benefit.

"This is the ultimate Halloween Trick or Treat.PSE&G will knock on your door, take your candy, and then bill you for it.PSE&G takes our money and tries to trick us into believing this will help prepare the grid for the next storm.Under Energy Strong 100% of the rate payers will pay but less than 40% will see any benefit.That is Energy Wrong. All Energy Strong does is raise rates and undermine renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.This proposal is about elevating, not upgrading New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

In PSE&G's Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure Investment report the company states they want to get rid of $600 million for Solar 4 All, $100 million for Solar Loans, and $200 million from Energy Efficiency for All.In order to pay for Energy Strong they want to cut renewable energy programs by $900 million but Sierra Club is participating in the rate case to demand more energy efficiency and renewable programs.Cutting these programs to pay for Energy Strong is an accounting gimmick and shows they are not investing enough in these programs currently.

"Energy efficiency, distributive generation, and renewables will benefit everyone.At a time when we should be investing in renewables and energy efficiency to make state more resilient they are actually cutting these programs," said Jeff Tittel.

PSE&G also wants to move the Gas Capital Improvement Plan Phase 3 investments, $1.4 billion, into the Energy Strong program.This should not be allowed because replacing old gas lines is a capital improvement and has nothing to do with hardening infrastructure.

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.

In August HUD released their Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Strategy Document which outlines criteria for federal funding.On energy HUD is calling for not just hardening the grid, but making it more resilient by including distributive generation, microgrid, combined heat and power, smart grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency.Utilities in New Jersey, including PSE&G, should be meeting these criteria and actively going after federal funding for these upgrades.PSE&G has not applied for the available HUD Community Development Block Grant funding to harden and elevate infrastructure.They have also not applied for available FEMA funding to elevate vulnerable infrastructure.In New York utilities are requesting that funding.

The decisions the BPU makes 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 are going to oppose this project because changes are not being made.This proposal will waste a lot of rate payer money that will be destroyed in the next storm.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
NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives:
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Received on 2013-10-31 09:09:20

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