Refueling the plant, refueling the community

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A look inside the Hope Creek cooling tower.

Pennsville is a quiet South Jersey town in rural Salem County, just a stone’s throw from the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. On any given morning, a healthy stream of customers frequent area gas stations and convenience stores to fill their vehicles with gas and themselves with coffee. From here, many of these men and women set off for the 20 or so miles to PSEG Nuclear’s Salem and Hope Creek Generating Stations.

On most normal mornings, traffic is brisk heading to the plant. However, when one of the stations conducts a refueling outage, traffic swells exponentially.

All nuclear power plants have planned shut downs for maintenance and refueling. Nuclear energy facilities are unique among other power plants in their need to refuel just once every 18 to 24 months. These events tend to occur in the spring and fall when electricity demand is at its lowest.

This spring, Hope Creek is conducting its 21st refueling outage. It is a special time for Hope Creek because it is the first time in its 32-year operating history that the station has completed a “breaker-to-breaker” run. This means the station has been providing electricity nonstop since its last outage 18 months ago. As a result of that continuous operation, Hope Creek set a new generation record in 2017, when it produced 10.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity.

Refueling outages are all about teamwork. Before an outage even begins, an orchestrated assortment of activities takes place, typically beginning with tasks like erecting scaffolds, pre-staging equipment and hours of administrative work, including processing hundreds of additional personnel.

One of the critical activities at the start of an outage is the choreographed exercise of safely taking the plant offline. A refueling outage is more than simply flicking a switch. Highly-trained Nuclear Operations Professionals work methodically as a team to safely remove the station from the regional power grid.  Then the team focuses on performing tasks to ensure the reactor is cooled down and remains cooled down during the duration of the outage.

Hope Creek Reactor Cavity Work Platform being installed.

In addition to replacing a third of the reactor’s secure, on-site fuel, the list of Hope Creek outage projects includes tests and inspections, maintenance activities and millions of dollars worth of capital equipment upgrades to help improve reliability and continued safe operations.

Engineering’s Bob Montgomery (front) and Matt Murray inspecting the tower bypass line for repair options.

These refueling outage cycles signify more than just the replenishment of the materials and servicing of the equipment that enable Salem and Hope Creek to supply 40 percent of New Jersey’s electricity and produce more than 90 percent of New Jersey’s carbon-free electricity.

While Salem and Hope Creek employ 1,600 people, a refueling outage also means an additional 1,000 jobs for a several-week period. This is a boom to the local economy as these workers spend their money locally on housing, restaurants and other goods and services throughout the Salem County area.

With farms dotting its landscape, it’s often said that Salem County is the garden spot of the Garden State.  But for local residents and the entire community, it’s the hustle and bustle of the nuclear plants’ refueling outages that help drive the local economy.

The DiMarco family has owned the Italian Kitchen near the plants for more than 30 years, and the outages are good for business.

“It’s our busy season and we get workers coming and going at the shift changes for both breakfast and dinner,” Gino DiMarco said. “It’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed so we love when it’s refueling outage season!”

Within a few short weeks, the refueling outage will be over and Hope Creek will return to service. Another refueling outage is scheduled for Salem Unit 2 in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Delaware’s place in our energy future

Pea Patch Island was, in the beginning, a mostly forgotten mound in the middle of the Delaware River. Through the earliest years of American history, the island was so small and unassuming that neither New Jersey nor Delaware were concerned with which state claimed ownership.

But that all changed two centuries ago, right after the War of 1812, when the island became a focal point for our young nation’s security. Construction lasted many years, but the result was Fort Delaware, a pentagon-shaped fortification that, along with Fort Mott in Pennsville, New Jersey, and Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Delaware, established a three-pronged defense of Philadelphia and its critically important harbor from enemy ships.

The attack on Philadelphia never came, however. So during the Civil War, Fort Delaware was put to more productive use as a Union POW camp for 32,000 captured Confederate soldiers. Once the War Between the States was over, the fort remained active but quiet through World Wars I and II. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that Fort Delaware began its new life as a historical site and tourist attraction.

On April 27, Delaware state officials formally dedicated Fort Delaware’s newly installed solar array – made possible through the state’s longstanding partnership with PSEG and the company’s donation of 700 solar panels.

Fort Delaware’s story is one of shifting identities. Here at PSEG, we know all about that.

For most of our 115-year history, Public Service was a traditional poles-and-wires company, providing customers with electricity that was generated using fossil fuels.

PSEG has donated 700 solar panels to power Fort Delaware State Park, replacing an old diesel generator damaged during Superstorm Sandy with a new, renewable source of year-round electricity. The new solar installation was dedicated during a ceremony in Delaware City, Delaware, on April 27, 2018.

But today, PSEG has earned a national reputation and a new identity as a leader in clean energy. We have invested nearly $2 billion in solar energy – including PSEG Solar Source, which has developed 23 utility-scale solar farms in 14 states (including the largest solar farm in Delaware), and Solar 4 All, an award-winning program that builds solar energy facilities on old landfills and brownfields, putting these forgotten spaces back to productive use.

PSEG’s donated solar panels were installed with the help of state and federal grants. The new solar installation replaces the island’s previous source of electricity – an old diesel generator that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy – and will provide the state park with approximately $20,000 worth of clean energy per year.

In previous seasons, the generator burned 180 barrels of diesel fuel per year to power the state park. The drums of fuel were brought to the island by boat – which was not only inefficient, but also presented both environmental and safety concerns.

By converting to solar energy, Fort Delaware State Park now has access to clean, efficient and more affordable power year-round, enabling heat, lights, security cameras and dehumidifiers to run throughout the winter months.

The result is a win for the environment and a win for the people of Delaware.

At PSEG, we’re proud of our clean energy leadership. That’s also true in our home state of New Jersey, where we not only are the leading developer of solar energy but also, as the operators of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants, the state’s leading generator of carbon-free electricity.

And we’re working closely with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to pursue the state’s clean energy goals – including initiatives to expand energy efficiency, promote the use of electric vehicles and contribute to the development of offshore wind resources.

PSEG has enjoyed a long-lasting public-private partnership with the state of Delaware. We’re excited to continue that partnership and support the sustainability of Fort Delaware by merging Civil War history with 21st-century science to provide safe, clean and efficient solar power that also helps the state reduce its carbon footprint.

How a building changed my life

Jhakeyda Floyd (center) with her teammates Ed Simpson (left) and Brendon Thomas, who worked with her as contractors on the Safety Watcher team.

I was born and raised in Newark.  In fact, I have lived here my whole life.  For a while, I lived in an apartment building that overlooked an empty lot at the corner of Littleton Avenue and West Market Street in Newark’s West Ward.  A long-closed factory used to be there, and after it was demolished the land remained vacant for a long time.

At the time, I was working three jobs to provide for my two daughters, Keziah and Jaziah, and my son, Zion.  I was a security guard at one of my jobs, and when I noticed that a fence had gone up around the vacant lot and a security guard station had been placed there, I went to see if could get a job as a guard.  I learned that PSE&G was planning to put a new switching station at the site to improve the local electric system.  At first many residents expressed concerns about the plan, but after many meetings with local residents, community groups and elected officials, PSE&G obtained approval to build the new station.

As part of the agreement PSE&G made with the City of Newark, the company and its general contractor on the project, Jingoli & Sons, created a job training program to prepare local residents for jobs in the construction industry.  I am one of the almost 100 Newark residents who were trained under the program, and three years ago I began working as a contractor Safety Watcher at that very station – the Fairmount Heights Switching Station.

A view of the plaza at the Fairmount Heights Switching Station. A colorful mosaic can be seen on the wall in the background.

To prepare me for the job I received many hours of OSHA-approved training in construction job-site safety. My job was to keep a close eye on the workers there to ensure that they were performing their work safely and keeping themselves at safe distances from electric equipment and other hazards.  When I reported to work that first day, the site was just an empty lot in the earliest stages of active construction. At first I was concerned that the predominantly male work force would be reluctant to take instructions from a woman, but as they got to know me and came to understand that I had their safety at heart, they were very accepting. I like to say that when someone pushed back, I would just use my ‘mommy voice.’  It never failed.

Over time, the station began to take shape.  The building that houses the switching equipment went up, the station equipment and electric circuits were installed and the building was placed in service.  Finally, earlier this month a decorative art wall surrounding the building was dedicated at a ceremony attended by PSE&G executives, local residents, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other officials, and the artists whose works grace the walls.  What had been an eyesore just a few short years ago is now a beautiful building housing a functioning switching station. The West Ward is better for it. Newark is better for it.  And I am better for it.

A portion of the art wall surrounding the Fairmount Heights Switching Station.

My friends on the PSE&G team that managed the project told me that they always get a special feeling of pride and satisfaction when a project they have been working on is finally completed.  Now, having seen this project through from start to finish, I understand exactly what they mean. I will never look at this building without thinking, “I helped build this.”

When I came to work here I was struggling financially and living in a high crime area where I was afraid to take my children out to play.  Thanks to this opportunity, I now own my home in Newark (where else?) and my children can now safely play in their own backyard.

Yes, I helped build that building.  But the building also helped me to build a better life for me and my children.

Our Energy, Our Planet, Our Future

Sust2017_cover_1040x714PSEG is committed to sustainability.

At the forefront of that commitment are certain ideals: social awareness, care for the environment, and an enthusiastic pledge to support our customers and the communities where we do business.

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These values have guided our company for more than a century.

PSEG recently issued its 2017 Sustainability Report – our seventh – which provides an overview of these values, as well as an in-depth look at how the company’s investments in solar energy, energy efficiency and infrastructure projects are improving the reliability and resiliency of our electric and gas systems.

The report also outlines our efforts to reduce environmental impacts and be socially responsible while creating business opportunities and well-paying jobs.

The 2017 report is available at pseg.com/sustainability.

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Our experience demonstrates that it is possible to power the economy, provide good jobs for people and protect the environment – all at the same time.

PSEG’s dedication to social progress is evident in initiatives that occur both inside and outside our organization. Diversity and inclusion are essential to fostering an environment that can help us improve by becoming more closely aligned with the changing faces of our workforce, our customers and our communities. We also maintain a vital role in our communities, supporting educational and charitable programs through the contributions of the PSEG Foundation and our employee volunteers.

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PSEG’s mission, to deliver safe, reliable and economic energy to our 2.5 million electric and gas customers, provides a foundation for economic growth throughout New Jersey and beyond. In doing so, we provide good jobs and work hard to attract and retain quality employees. Together, these efforts help us to deliver a fair return for our investors and build on one of the longest records of paying annual dividends of any U.S. company.

We believe it is our responsibility to work toward a cleaner energy future. To this end, we have invested more than $1.5 billion in the development of solar energy; we have begun to modernize our underground natural gas system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; we are working to sustain the state’s nuclear fleet, which generates more than 90 percent of New Jersey’s non air-polluting electricity; and we are seeking to expand programs that deliver energy and cost savings to every customer through energy efficiency.

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We also have established an ambitious new climate goal: to reduce our carbon footprint by 13 million tons of C02-equivalent emissions by 2030, from 2005 levels.  The reduction is the equivalent of taking 2.8 million cars off the road.

Previously, PSEG established a goal of reducing its GHG emissions by 25 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. PSEG met that goal in 2011, 14 years ahead of schedule. The company’s new goal is a continuation of its success to further reduce emissions and provide more low-carbon energy.

For more than a century, Public Service has put sustainability – social awareness, economic growth and environmental protection – at the top of our company’s agenda.

By setting high standards, we have established PSEG as a national model in renewable energy, in reliability and resiliency – leadership that positions us to help our business partners meet their own sustainability goals, as well. We know there is still more to do, in order to assure a sustainable future for our state, our environment and our organization.

Sust2017_21_1040x518Making New Jersey and the surrounding communities we serve better places to work and live is central to our mission. We approach that challenge with the help of a skilled, dedicated workforce, with a proud Public Service tradition and with a vision based on safe, reliable, economic and greener energy. Our commitment to sustainability has guided our past, brought us to where we are today and will lead us to tomorrow.

The momentum to modernize


Providing safe, reliable gas service to roughly 1.8 million customers across New Jersey is a big responsibility, and one we take very seriously at PSE&G. That’s why we have undertaken a multi-year program to update older portions of our network of 34,500 miles of underground pipes – enough to circle the earth and then some. About 4,000 miles of that network consist of century-old cast-iron and unprotected steel pipe that is showing its age. Although our service reliability continues to be excellent, we’re not waiting for problems to find us. Continue reading

Spreading love throughout our communities

Over the past 17 years, our dedicated employees have volunteered countless hours spreading love throughout our communities. From services for youth to low-income families to schools, emergency responders, arts and animal rescue, the nonprofits our employees dedicate themselves to are as diverse as the employees who support them.

Check out the video below to learn more about the Recognizing Excellence in Volunteerism Program and meet our 2017 winners.

Now let’s meet our Award of Excellence, $10,000 recipient – the PSEG St. John’s Soup Kitchen Team.

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A 115-year-old company that’s just getting started

“To develop the state of New Jersey and make it a better place to live.”

When Thomas N. McCarter uttered those words after taking the helm of the Public Service Corp. in 1903, he was thinking about how to meet New Jerseyans’ growing need for more modern and efficient sources of heat, light and (at that time) transportation.

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