Public Service Electric and Gas Co. has submitted its application to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to construct the North Central Reliability Project, which would upgrade transmission lines and substations in the northern and central regions of the state. The upgrade is required by PJM Interconnection, L.L.C., the independent regional planning organization, to help maintain reliability and provide better power quality. In addition, the project is expected to reduce transmission system congestion in the region.

"The North Central Reliability Project is essential to deliver the electric power required by New Jersey businesses and residents now and in the future," said Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G. "The demand for electricity in the region is expected to continue to grow over the long term, despite the current economic slowdown and conservation efforts. This project will help ensure that customers continue to have the safe, reliable service they have come to expect."

The existing power system, some of which dates back to the 1920s, needs to be upgraded to keep pace with the demand for power created by technology, such as large-screen televisions, iPods, cellular phones and other electronic devices that are now commonplace. The upgraded 230kV system will benefit all area residents and businesses, regardless of their local electric company.

Prior to the filing, PSE&G held four public meetings and workshops with residents along the route to solicit their comments and suggestions. Three additional workshops have been scheduled.

"PSE&G is committed to being as responsive as possible to any questions or concerns the public may have about this project," said LaRossa. "We look forward to continuing this important dialogue with residents and municipal officials as we proceed at the BPU."

The BPU review process is expected to include public hearings, as well as an evidentiary hearing. During the review period, PSE&G will conduct final design work and other construction details. Once BPU approval is received, work could begin in early 2012, with an in-service date of June 2014.

In addition to the BPU review process, the project will undergo environmental review by all government agencies with jurisdiction.

The North Central Reliability Project will upgrade existing PSE&G transmission lines and stations along its existing right-of-way from the Roseland Switching Station in Essex County to the West Orange Switching Station in Essex County and to the Sewaren Switching Station in Middlesex County. The existing 138,000-volt (138-kV) transmission lines would be replaced with 230,000-volt (230kV) transmission lines for 35 miles through West Orange, Livingston, Roseland, Florham Park, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Watchung, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Clark, Edison, Metuchen and Woodbridge.

The cost of the project is currently estimated to be $300-$350 million, and will create approximately 400 new craft jobs in the state during a two-year period.