Business customers also are projected to see lower overall bills in 2018 compared to current bills. For example, an industrial electric customer using 85 million kilowatt-hours per year, with a usage pattern similar to a class average primary voltage customer*, is projected to pay approximately $1 million less in 2018 than today even if every project in Energy Strong was approved by the BPU. This bill also assumes current PSE&G supply costs.The stability of bills is due to a number of factors. First, the price of natural gas has dropped nearly 40 percent in the past four years, lowering the cost of heat and electricity. Second, some charges currently included in customer bills will expire in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Two of those charges are related to the deregulation of the New Jersey energy market. The Transitional Energy Facility Assessment will expire in January 2014 and the Securitization Transition Charge expires in 2016. A third charge, the Non-Utility Generation Charge, will approach zero in January 2017. PSE&G is seeking BPU approval to begin the Energy Strong program on July 1, with initial rates effective Jan. 1, 2014. "How many more destructive storms can New Jersey endure before we take action to create a more resilient utility system?" Izzo said. "We cannot afford to delay. We look forward to productive discussions with our regulators to prioritize what needs to be done and when." PSE&G's "Energy Strong" program would make improvements to its distribution system to reduce the number and duration of power outages caused by severe storms. The improvements include:
- protecting more than 40 utility installations from storm surges,
- strengthening distribution lines,
- making the electric grid smarter and thereby easier to restore customers, and
- modernizing the gas distribution system.