NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey’s largest utility company is proposing an expensive plan to protect and strengthen its system against future storms.

PSE&G wants to spend $3.9 billion to strengthen distribution lines, protect utility stations from storm surges and make the grid easier to repair.

“We’re going to look to raise some of those substations, bring those controls above the flood planes,” PSE&G president and COO Ralph LaRossa told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “Rebuilding pole lines and just building it a lot stronger than it was in the past.”

“How we live and do business is so dependent on energy that any outage is hard to tolerate,” PSE&G Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo said in a statement. “Sandy was a defining event for all of us. The state’s entire energy infrastructure needs to be rethought in light of weather conditions that many predict will continue to occur.”

During Sandy, 2 million of PSE&G’s 2.2 million customers lost power. The company said if the proposed upgrades had been in place, about 800,000 of those affected by a storm like Sandy would have remained with power and service would have been restored quicker to the rest.

“We’re going to build in more redundancy in the grid so that where we have some of our circuits that are looped together, we’ll segment them further,” LaRossa told Haskell.

The utility’s goal is to make the power grid more reliable and resilient, said LaRossa.

The utility’s plan includes:

• $1.7 billion to raise, relocate or protect all switching and substations affected by recent storms as well as those in newly designated flood zones.
• $1.04 billion to replace and modernize 750 miles of low-pressure cast iron gas mains in or near flood areas.
• $454 million to deploy smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations to increase our ability to more swiftly deploy repair teams.
• $215 million to improve pole distribution systems.
• $200 million to create redundancy in the system, reducing outages when damage occurs.
• $60 million to move 20 miles of overhead electric distribution lines underground.
• $140 million to protect 9 natural gas metering stations and a liquefied natural gas station affected by Sandy or located in flood zones.

The 10-year plan needs approval from a state board.

PSE&G said customers’ bills will not be impacted because the cost will be off-set by the falling price of natural gas.

“Our target is to keep those bills flat, we’re not talking about any increases here,” Izzo said.

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