When a substation or power line is being built, PSE&G has employees who are thinking about every aspect of the project, including its environmental footprint and how to make it more sustainable. They’re even thinking about how they can make somebody say, “Wow,” as they pass by – which often happens, for instance, with the new Madison Street substation in Hoboken that can be lit in different LED configurations .
An increasing number of these employees are women who have built and are building successful careers in all areas of PSE&G, including Environmental Projects & Services.
Noreen Merainer, a licensing project manager, started as a consultant from an engineering and environmental firm who worked with PSE&G for seven years before being hired in 1998. She loves the job as much today as she did then.
“My favorite part of my job is working with the project team to design a safe, modern, reliable sustainable station that is something everyone can be proud of,” Merainer said. “I love working with others and knowing that I’m contributing to long-lasting infrastructure.”
Merainer, who joined PSE&G soon after obtaining a graduate degree in environmental planning, said many may think they need to be engineers to work for the utility. However, there are many diverse and exciting jobs available. Her colleagues agreed that working on various projects with diverse disciplines while protecting the environment is both motivating and rewarding.
Licensing Project Manager Claudia Rocca, who joined the team in 2012 after working in permitting for commercial developments, said some of her favorite parts of her job are being able to work to help provide safe and reliable power while protecting natural resources and wildlife such as bald eagles and blue-spotted salamanders.
“One of my favorite moments on the job was walking through an electric transmission right of way (ROW) that used to be just turf grass,” Rocca said. “We removed the turf grass, seeded with native pollinator seed mix, and created a native meadow to support wildlife and pollinators alike. The ROW is now buzzing with life, and we are working on expanding this to more areas throughout our system.”
After two summers interning with PSE&G, Project Controls Engineer Jasmine Berry joined the company shortly after graduating from Syracuse University in 2018.
“Even as an intern, I felt like I was making an impact,” Berry said. “I was drawn to PSE&G because of its focus on being an energy leader and its environmental initiatives. Everyone here is very encouraging and focused on continuous improvement.”
“This is the type of job where you’re constantly learning,” Berry said. “We’re able to take that knowledge and apply it in ways that truly help our communities.”
Whether it’s working in waste management to managing the financials related to a major site remediation project, Berry enjoys collaborating and problem-solving.
Project Manager of Environmental Anne Davis said one of the things she enjoys most in a support role is helping others see how the environmental team can enhance their work without slowing projects down, even when there are compliance and other challenges.
“I tell people, if I’m going to help you, I need to understand your business so I can create processes that work for you and help you achieve your goals,” Davis said. “I’ve been told I’m known for saying, ‘You can’t do this, but you can do that, and I will help you do it.’”
Davis worked as an environmental consultant for 20 years before joining PSE&G in 2012. In the previous organizations that she worked, she found they were not diverse and had poor practices such as not inviting women to important events and meetings. From the beginning, she felt more supported and included at PSE&G.
“I haven’t benefited from nor been held back as a woman at PSE&G, which is how it should be,” Davis said. “I do mentor people and encourage them to come work at the company. Some companies don’t do the right thing from an environmental standpoint. Yet PSE&G wants to be 100% compliant and that is clear to me, so it makes it very easy to work here.”
Karen Dillon, manager of Environmental Services, said that she would have thought twice about encouraging her daughter to start a career in energy or construction five years ago. Today, she’s encouraged by the growing number of women in environmental services, and the company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through the promotion of women into leadership roles.
“The world is shifting and changing, and women’s voices are becoming more prevalent,” Dillon said. “The ability to voice your opinions without seeming bossy or domineering is very empowering.”
Dillon, who started as a contractor with PSE&G in 2006, also likes that her work allows her to touch all aspects of the company. For instance, one of her fondest memories is from a time when she was working storm duty. She helped restore power to a son whose mom required constant oxygen yet had gone three days without power.
“After four days, working 16 hours a day, seeing the customer impact was really meaningful for me,” Dillon said. “It really made the sacrifice of my long hours away from my family worthwhile.”
From working with local municipalities and the state to seeking licenses and permits to working with project managers on sustainable infrastructure to working in the aftermath of storms to identify environmental hazards, these women stay busy and committed.