New Jersey Utility Plans $4.1 Billion in Clean Energy Investment

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey’s biggest utility says it can make money by getting its customers to use less of what it sells.

Public Service Enterprise Group’s electric and gas distributor is proposing to spend $4.1 billion on programs designed to help New Jersey meet its clean energy goals, according to a statement Thursday. The initiatives would save customers an estimated $7.4 billion, the Newark-based company said.

“This may be the only industry in America making a business case to sell you less of its product,” Chief Executive Officer Ralph Izzo said in an interview. “It’s counter-intuitive. If you think of our product not as electricity or gas, but you think of our product as infrastructure that allows you to make the optimal use of that electricity and gas, then we can grow our bottom line at the same time that we lower the customer’s bill and improve the environment.’

Utilities across the country are moving to invest in grid upgrades and new technologies designed to help states achieve green-energy mandates put in place in part to combat climate change. It’s a rare opportunity for growth in an industry that’s been grappling with tepid demand as consumers use more-efficient appliances and produce their own power with solar panels.

New Jersey recently passed a law that requires utilities to reduce customers’ annual electric and gas consumption by 2 percent and 0.75 percent, respectively.

Here are the details of PSEG’s proposal, which will need approval from state regulators:

  • A $2.8 billion energy-efficiency plan that includes offering customers rebates and other incentives to purchase more-efficient appliances, smart thermostats and other equipment; also includes free energy audits
  • An $800 million program to install smart meters
  • A $364 million program for infrastructure to support almost 40,000 electric-vehicle chargers
  • A $180 million proposal for 35 megawatts of energy storage capacity

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