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New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) today filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) seeking to implement a Safety Acceleration and Facility Enhancement (SAFE) program to replace certain portions of its existing infrastructure that is aged and presents the highest safety risk. This $204 million capital investment program will help replace the cast iron and unprotected steel distribution lines, along with all associated services and meters, in NJNG’s delivery system by approximately 343 miles, or 60 percent, over five years.
“Ensuring safe, reliable service for our customers and the communities we serve is the most important thing we do” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Natural Gas. “With the SAFE program, we are looking to upgrade our older and more susceptible infrastructure to ensure the integrity of our system and best serve our customers. We also believe that by leveraging our investment, we can help New Jersey’s economy continue to grow.”
Approximately 570 miles of NJNG’s infrastructure have been identified as being at least 45 years old. These cast iron and unprotected steel mains and services, the most commonly used in the industry prior to 1970, are more susceptible to corrosion and leaks, and account for over 95 percent of all leaks found on the system, excluding third-party damage. NJNG has been routinely addressing the replacement of these facilities through its annual capital construction plan but is seeking approval to expedite that work. The accelerated replacement of this aged main is consistent with the state’s Energy Master Plan and its emphasis on investment in natural gas infrastructure as a pathway to lower energy costs and enhance energy security.
Pending approval, NJNG will annually prepare a list of specific projects in its service territory for the BPU and Rate Counsel, with the first year’s submission to be provided within 45 days from the approved date. NJNG will file proposed work schedules each subsequent June for as long as the program is in effect. The utility is requesting that construction work commence on or after the effective date of the Board Order for this program and be authorized for five years from that date.