N.J. Congressmen back measure aiming to strengthen power grid

 Rep. Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey) joins officials from PSE&G andcongressional colleagues to talk storm-preparedness ahead of the firstanniversary of Superstorm Sandy.  (Monica Miller/For NewsWorks)

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey) joins officials from PSE&G andcongressional colleagues to talk storm-preparedness ahead of the firstanniversary of Superstorm Sandy. (Monica Miller/For NewsWorks)

As the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy nears, some members of the New Jersey congressional delegation want to make sure the national grid can withstand another major storm.

Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to 8.5 million customers and cost billions of dollars in damages according to U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

“With power outages amounting to somewhere between 14 billion to 26 billion alone,” Payne said Tuesday.

He’s sponsoring legislation to create the Smart Grid Study Act.

“I wish we could say that we talk about 100-year storms. But, this is probably the second or third storm we’ve been through in the last five or six years,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, who favors the research, said it’s time to improve grid technology and protect it against natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

“They will be costly,” he warned. “But, as we’ve seen from the $83 billion price tag of Hurricane Sandy, we will be paying for it one way or another.”

The 18-month study would cost about $2 million under the federal Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Reps. Frank J. Pallone Jr. and Leonard Lance joined federal and Public Service Electric & Gas Company representatives in Newark Tuesday for the news conference.

Ralph LaRossa, president of PSE&G, said Hurricanes Irene and Sandy taught utility officials to communicate better and sharpen their response skills. But the grid remains fragile.

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