By Jerry Keenan | Special to Meadowlands Media
Your light switch…
Your gas stove…
Your kitchen sink tap…
Your business’ production line…
Just some of the things on which we depend every day.
And which we always expect to be there for us.
All made better because of infrastructure investments utility companies are making every day in New Jersey.
What you see in gas line excavations, overhead power transmission improvements and water infrastructure upgrades is obvious as you drive around our state. Investment in new technologies such as offshore wind and “green” gas and hydrogen is also part of that incredible investment. And most of it’s not readily seen. At least not yet.
That $4.1 billion figure is the investment being made in 2023 by our state’s utilities. We got the details when electric, gas and water utility executives outlined upcoming infrastructure investments when speaking to Alliance for Action members in December.
What needs to change in the years ahead? One of the greatest demands on our electric grid is going to be the electrification of transportation. Prices of EV autos are coming down and soon electric buses will be the norm instead of the exception. Just visit a campus like Rutgers or NJ TRANSIT’s EV bus fleet in Camden to see what’s next.
And where is all that electricity coming from? Some of it will come from the offshore wind turbines being built off our coast.
But offshore wind won’t be enough. We’ll need natural gas (the lead energy source for heating our homes) for a long time to come. And we already have a significant infrastructure system in place that can also deliver green gases from sewage, wastewater and farms sources. Hydrogen development can also be a source of propulsion for vehicles and businesses in the future.
Our energy mix is going to look very different two decades from now. We need to be prepared. We need to encourage utility companies to continue their infrastructure investments to keep pace with the needs of our residents and businesses.
The massive transportation improvements that will come to the Meadowlands are all going to involve utility relocation and upgrading, starting with the biggest infrastructure project in the entire country: The Gateway Tunnel.
Our state’s utility companies are our greatest corporate neighbors. Not only are their infrastructure investments providing more efficient, more reliable, safer and more environmentally sound service, but they’re also creating new business opportunities.
While speaking at our Bergen County Alliance for Action meeting last year, Congressman Josh Gottheimer told us that “every dollar invested in infrastructure leads to more than three dollars of economic output.”
That means 2023 utility upgrades in New Jersey will give residents and businesses better service, while ALSO creating more than $12 billion in economic output!
Public utilities have delivered for us for more than a century. We’re going to need them more than ever in our future!
Jerry Keenan is President of the New Jersey Alliance for Action. He joined the executive staff of the Alliance in 1997 and was named president in 2020. He began his career as a North Jersey TV and radio reporter and is a native of Wayne.