As New Jersey works to recover from the effects of the pandemic, including the economic impact, we are committed to doing our part to create jobs and power the local economy. Our region faces an uphill road to recovery, but in this challenge is a unique opportunity to not only rebuild New Jersey, but to also move New Jersey forward—to make New Jersey a leader in advancing a clean energy future that will bring cleaner air to our neighborhoods, help improve equity in our communities and combat the effects of climate change.
There is a lot of work to do. We can connect more customers to solar energy, build charging infrastructure for the growing electric vehicle industry, and develop more advanced energy efficiency programs to help customers save money. All these opportunities start with a modern energy grid.
We have proposed building a Smart Energy Network across South Jersey. The network will include installing smart meters, also referred to as advanced metering infrastructure, and upgrading the local energy grid with specialized networking equipment. This will not only enhance the reliability and resiliency of the grid, but also improve customer experience and pave the way for new energy efficiency programs that give customers greater control over their energy usage. As our customers’ needs evolve, this smarter energy infrastructure can serve as a common platform, connecting customers to more clean, reliable and affordable energy services and choices.
The work to build the Smart Energy Network, as well as the implementation of the new clean energy technologies and services it will support, can be significant drivers of the region’s economic recovery. Our efforts to build the network will create numerous jobs for field technicians and support personnel for meter exchanges, as well as project management personnel and IT technicians for the installation of specialized networking equipment. As we look ahead, the new programs and services supported by the network—such as energy efficiency, clean electric transportation and new clean energy investments—can also create a myriad of jobs and new opportunities across the state.
Throughout the next several years, we will look for opportunities to enhance and modify our workforce development programs to ensure workers are trained with the new skills that a smarter energy infrastructure will require—everything from the skills to install the network to the capabilities needed to launch new clean energy services and programs.
The Smart Energy Network is not only an important step for our region’s recovery, but also a vital step in building the nation’s leading clean energy economy here in New Jersey and powering a cleaner and brighter future for all our customers.
Gary Stockbridge is region president for Atlantic City Electric and Delmarva Power.