Key Infrastructure Projects Power NJ

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Energy infrastructure projects are a key driver of economic growth throughout New Jersey. Ensuring reliable power through electricity and natural gas, these types of projects help create better conditions for everyone in the state, while providing thousands of well-paying jobs for skilled workers. Without a stable energy infrastructure, today’s economy would come to a screeching halt.

In this article, New Jersey Business examines some key infrastructure projects and initiatives that will help strengthen the state’s economy and provide electricity to millions of New Jersey residents.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, approximately 75% of New Jersey households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel.

Through its two regulated natural gas utilities, South Jersey Gas Co. and Elizabethtown Gas Co., South Jersey Industries Inc. (SJI) is currently undertaking several multi-year infrastructure investment programs to improve safety and reliability of its gas utility systems.

“Through 2020, South Jersey Gas has replaced 804 miles of gas line under the Accelerated Infrastructure Replacement Program (AIRP), now in its second phase,” says Melissa Orsen, senior vice president, SJI. and President, SJI Utilities. “The AIRP aims to replace aging cast iron and bare steel in South Jersey Gas’ distribution infrastructure to ensure system reliability, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. South Jersey Gas plans to replace all remaining bare steel and cast iron in its system by the end of 2021.”

South Jersey Gas is also making upgrades to improve the reliability and resilience of its system in coastal communities through the Storm Hardening and Reliability Program (SHARP).

The first phase, known as SHARP I, involved the replacement of 92 miles of gas pipeline to protect infrastructure in anticipation of future major weather events. Through 2020, SHARP II has resulted in the installation of approximately 9,100 Excess Flow Valves (EFVs) in barrier island communities. Orsen says that in the event of damage to a gas line, VFDs can stop leaks by automatically shutting off service.

The Elizabethtown Gas Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) also aims to replace old cast iron, bare steel, ductile iron, copper and vintage plastic pipes and services. This five-year, $300 million program began July 1, 2019 and when completed will replace approximately 250 miles of mainline. From 2019 to 2020, Elizabethtown Gas replaced 89.9 miles of water main.

“These infrastructure improvement programs improve the resilience of energy infrastructure, enable us to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters, reduce methane leaks, improve environmental outcomes and contribute to economies. local and regional authorities by offering employment opportunities to dozens of workers”, says Orssen.

Switching from natural gas to grid electricity, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) recently completed the replacement of an undersea high voltage transmission line, stretching over a mile across Barnegat Bay along the Tunney-Mathis Bridges, to improve the reliability of electrical service to New Jersey’s barrier islands.

According to the company, dredging operations in recent years damaged the underwater transmission line that ran through the area, requiring it to be replaced.

The new 34.5 kilovolt line is one of four high voltage power sources serving approximately 30,000 JCP&L customers on barrier islands including the communities of Point Pleasant Beach, Bay Head, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach , Brick, Lavallette, Dover/Toms River, Ortley Beach, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Berkeley and Island Beach State Park.

The new line now sits safely 10 feet below the soft sandy base of the bay. Each of the three cables that make up the line are wrapped in 28 strands of aluminum armor wire, providing rugged protection and eliminating the need for a bundled armor enclosure commonly used in underwater power line projects.

“This project supports our commitment to use new, innovative methods to improve service reliability using emerging technology that places the submarine line in a safer location while minimizing the impact of the works on the fragile ecosystem of the bay,” said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L. . “The new line helps ensure that our barrier island customers will get the reliable service they need.”

Contribution of construction trades

Utilities like SJI and JCP&L work closely with local building trades unions to deliver many of the infrastructure improvement programs seen across the state.

For example, last July, South Jersey Gas cut the tape at the New Sentury pump station in South Harrison Township. – a $69 million infrastructure project that improves reliability for customers by maintaining constant pressure in gas distribution lines in the event of extreme weather conditions or human-caused disturbances. Orsen says SJI partnered with unions representing workers, operators, ironworkers, carpenters, pipefitters, electricians and dockworkers to help complete the project.

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