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State gets historic, nearly billion-dollar power grid update — here's what it means for residents

Upgrading the grid is a step toward stopping or at least decreasing power outages.

Upgrading the grid is a step toward stopping or at least decreasing power outages.

Photo Credit: iStock

Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), one of the four main electrical companies in New Jersey, filed a plan with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to upgrade its grid infrastructure, Electrek reports.

The $935 million plan, called "EnergizeNJ," is slated to take place over five years, affecting more than one million customers in central and northern New Jersey. It will be the largest upgrade in JCP&L's history and will include replacing around 650 miles of overhead and underground cables and updating 18 substations.

If successful, Electrek reports that these improvements will increase the capacity of a grid that is facing greater demand than ever with the growing interest in solar power and electric vehicles. The equipment will also be more weather-resistant, and power outages will become less frequent.

The cost to consumers will also be minimal. Electrek reports that over the next five years, customers will see a total increase of $4.16 on their monthly bills, about 3.6% of their totals.

These upgrades are vital given just how much the rate of outages has risen in the last two decades. Increasingly extreme weather has met aging infrastructure to create a surge in blackouts that is inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst.

Upgrading the grid is a step toward stopping or at least decreasing those outages. 

It also makes it more feasible for the whole state to switch to more affordable and less polluting energy solutions like EVs, which rely on a robust power grid. The more people choose electric and clean energy sources like solar, the less air pollution we'll produce as a whole, which will help bring down Earth's temperature and address the unstable weather patterns caused by the excess heat.

Using the U.S. Department of Energy's Interruption Cost Estimate tool to determine the cost of outages, Electrek estimated that the $935 million project would save N.J. residents over $3 billion, more than tripling the infrastructure investment while providing more reliable power throughout the service area.

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