Kim Hanemann, President and Chief Operating Officer, Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G)
For more than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that, for many of us,our homes have been serving extra duty as schools, as entertainment centers, and as places of business. As a result, residential customers are growing more and more reliant on the power that supplies their homes to be able to do their jobs and earn a living. That places added pressure on the infrastructure that provides the safe, reliable energy to power our homes and our lives.
So even though today’s residential customers are actually using less energy – thanks to increasingly energy efficient appliances – the pandemic has helped make us more dependent on the electricity we do use.
Your home is no longer a place where a power outage is a simple inconvenience. Pre-pandemic, if your home lost power, you might have come home to flashing clocks on your microwave and your nightstand. But today and in the future, that same power disruption could mean that you can’t work, or can’t attend classes. In some cases, it might mean you can’t even drive if it interrupts your ability to charge your electric vehicle.
"Post-pandemic, last-mile reliability will be a fast-growing area of infrastructure investment"
Now and moving forward, customers will need and expect commercial-level reliability at home, because every home may also be a business, a school or a fueling station.
The level of electric reliability we historically built into our commercial centers – places such as downtown Newark, New Brunswick, Elizabeth or Camden – has typically been much higher than a residential neighborhood.But as customers’ needs and expectations increase, we’ll need to direct greater investment into these residential networks.
At PSEG, we’re calling this new focus on residential networks last-mile reliability.
For more than a decade, PSE&G has invested billions of dollars to upgrade transmission and distribution networks as they reach end-of-life stage. Following Superstorm Sandy, which overwhelmed aging energy networks across the mid-Atlantic and cut power to millions of homes and businesses, our company embarked on a resiliency program called Energy Strong,which was designed to harden our gas and electric systems against increasingly frequent extreme weather.
As a 118-year-old utility, PSE&G also owns the nation’s largest network of cast-iron and unprotected steel gas infrastructure, which we’ve been replacing throughout our territories as part of our Gas System Modernization Program, enhancing reliability and safety while also reducing leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Post-pandemic, last-mile reliability will be a fast-growing area of infrastructure investment – especially as customers’ homes grow more and more reliant on an uninterrupted power supply for work and for transportation.
It’s just one of the many ways we’re re-imagining our workplace, our company and our business for a clean energy future.
Kim Hanemann is president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), New Jersey’s oldest and largest electric and gas utility, effective June 30, 2021.
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