South Jersey Gas, subsidiary of South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI), filed a petition today with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to expand a program it began in 2009 as a way to help stimulate the economy while also boosting the efficiency, reliability and safety of its natural gas system. “Since we began our infrastructure investment program in 2009, SJG has spent approximately $180 million to enhance the performance and safety of our system, create jobs and support the local economy,” said Jeffrey E. DuBois, president of South Jersey Gas. “The program proposed in this petition serves as a natural extension of that program and we look forward to continuing our work with the NJBPU and the Division of Rate Counsel to further advance our system’s safety and reliability,” he added. As part of its newly proposed Accelerated Infrastructure Replacement Program, SJG plans infrastructure improvement projects over the next five years totaling approximately $250 million that are incremental to the company’s normal capital projects scheduled over that same time period. These expenditures will focus on the replacement, on an accelerated basis, of aging cast iron and bare steel infrastructure. SJG plans to spend $50 million per year to perform this work. The company would be able to recover the costs associated with these improvements through annual rate adjustments. As part of the program, SJG would be able to earn a return of and a return on these infrastructure investments. The program is expected to result in an initial increase of approximately 0.7 percent to the average residential customer’s monthly bill, which would not take place until October 2013. For a customer using 100 therms of gas in a month, that increase translates into approximately $0.96 per bill. SJG expects current historically low natural gas prices to remain stable in the near term due to the availability of Marcellus Shale gas, which could offset the potential increase.
In the past two years, SJG customers have seen a series of reductions to bill costs from decreasing natural gas prices, including a 10.6 percent Basic Gas Supply Service rate reduction granted in 2010, a 3.4 percent rate reduction granted in 2011, and two Basic Gas Supply Service bill credits for $23 million and $20 million issued in April 2011 and December 2011, respectively.“In all, customer bills in 2011 were lower than they were in 2001,” added DuBois. “In terms of value, we’re unaware of any other energy product that’s as comparatively low priced over that duration.” Forward-Looking Statement This news release contains forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact included in this press release should be considered forward-looking statements made in good faith by the Company and are intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this press release words such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “expect”, “estimate”, “forecast”, “goal”, “intend”, “objective”, “plan”, “project”, “seek”, “strategy” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following: general economic conditions on an international, national, state and local level; weather conditions in our marketing areas; changes in commodity costs; the timing of new projects coming online; changes in the availability of natural gas; “non-routine” or “extraordinary” disruptions in our distribution system; regulatory, legislative and court decisions; competition; the availability and cost of capital; costs and effects of legal proceedings and environmental liabilities; the failure of customers, suppliers or business partners to fulfill their contractual obligations; and changes in business strategies. SJI assumes no duty to update these statements should actual events differ from expectations.
About South Jersey IndustriesSouth Jersey Industries (NYSE: SJI), a member of the MSCI Global Climate Index, offers solutions to climate change and helps customers control energy costs. South Jersey Gas, one of the nation’s fastest growing natural gas utilities, delivers clean, efficient natural gas and promotes energy efficiency to customers in southern New Jersey. SJI’s non-regulated businesses, under South Jersey Energy Solutions, promote efficiency, clean technology and renewable energy by developing and operating on-site energy production facilities; acquiring and marketing natural gas and electricity for retail customers; providing wholesale commodity marketing and risk management services; and offering HVAC and other energy-efficiency related services. For more information about SJI and its subsidiaries, visit http://www.sjindustries.com. Find us on facebook at facebook.com/southjerseyindustries and on twitter @sjindustries.