Congressmen Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Frank J. Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), and Leonard Lance (NJ-07), along with U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Patricia Hoffman and Public Service Electric & Gas (PSEG) Company President & Chief Operating Officer Ralph LaRossa, held a press conference today at PSEG in Newark, New Jersey to commemorate the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and highlight the need to invest in strengthening our power grid systems to prepare for future disasters and mitigate billions of dollars of costs down the road.
Between 2003 and 2012, weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy on average between $18 billion and $33 billion annually. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy cost the United States an estimated $65 billion in damages, with outage costs accounting for an estimated $14 to $26 billion alone. Hurricane Sandy also knocked out power for 8.5 million customers, leaving many without power for nearly two weeks.
"Hurricane Sandy didn't just disrupt lives, it caused major damage to our economy" said Rep. Payne, Jr. "But the good news is we can mitigate this damage by investing in and upgrading our electric grid now to reduce costs down the road. My bipartisan SMART Grid Study bill will fully explore steps we can take to make our power grid smarter and more resilient, reduce the devastation caused by natural disasters, and make us more secure in the process. I very much look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and stakeholders in the power industry to make this a reality."
The SMART Grid Study Act is a $2.1 million comprehensive study by the National Research Council in full cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy and other government agencies, with the goal of reducing the frequency and magnitude of outages. The study will provide a comprehensive look at the construction and technical development stages, costs, jobs created, energy savings, and environmental protections associated with fully upgrading to a SMART Grid System.
"As we approach the one-year anniversary of Sandy, we all understand the incredible impact of this storm and how it uprooted communities, disrupted lives and unleashed the power of nature unlike anything most of us had ever seen before," said Patricia Hoffman, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. "After a critical review of the Department's emergency response, we took to heart the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy. We are continuing our work toward a more resilient energy infrastructure by further strengthening our partnerships, continuing to invest in our energy infrastructure and adapting for climate change. Grid resilience is a core requirement for climate adaptation."
"We appreciate Congressman Payne's leadership and the bipartisan support of the NJ delegation in recognizing the critical need for making our electric infrastructure more resilient," said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and COO. "Continued investment in grid modernization and resilience will put thousands of people to work, save the economy billions of dollars and reduce the hardship experienced by millions of Americans when extreme weather strikes."
"During Sandy, hundreds of thousands of households in New Jersey were without power for days," Rep. Pallone said. "We must work to prepare our electric grid for storms like this. We know that we'll never be able to stop all power outages during natural disasters, but to the extent that we can improve our energy infrastructure to limit any outages, we must make that effort."
"Response to Hurricane Sandy means more than tending to the needs of the people it has harmed and displaced," Rep. Holt said. "It means making significant investments in making our region's power grid more resilient -- in addition to conducting proper disaster planning and taking aggressive steps to bring climate change under control."
"The study of our electrical grid will ultimately allow us to minimize the threat of power outages as a result of storms and network failures created by cyber terrorism," Rep. Clarke said.
"I applaud my friend and colleague Congressman Payne for his leadership on this important public safety issue," Rep. Lance said. "During the devastation of Hurricane Sandy the people of New Jersey witnessed first-hand the tremendous safety and economic consequences of a power grid failure so it is important that we examine ways to make our grid more resilient and secure. The one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy gives us much to reflect upon. Like other natural disasters, the best way to remember is to draw the right lessons. By making our infrastructure systems smarter, stronger and more resilient, we can be better prepared for the next storm."
Attendees emphasized the need to upgrade our power systems, invest in smart grid technologies, and make our electric grid more resilient in light of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. A resilient grid is one that can withstand and recover from severe weather-related events, making it stronger and more reliable. Making investments now will not only save billions of dollars in disaster relief, but it will improve our national security by increasing our defense against cyber-attacks.