Cable cutter owners are set to begin cutting service electric cables in New Jersey as part of a new effort to reduce the nation’s electricity use.
The New Jersey Utilities and Commerce Commission is set to vote Tuesday on whether to impose a one-time fee of $100 for electric companies that install new or replace existing cable.
The move comes as a group of cable industry experts warn that New Jersey’s power grid is increasingly vulnerable to blackouts due to the high costs of natural gas and the growing popularity of electric vehicles.
New Jersey has already imposed a one time fee of about $100 on electric companies who install new cable, but it is expected to be extended to a longer-term fee.
The new fee would apply to the first 50 percent of electric cables installed in New England.
The commission’s rules require that the new fee be waived for new or replacement cables for two years.
But the commission said in its order Tuesday that the fee would be waived in order to allow the commission to ensure that “the costs of this investment do not exceed the cost of maintaining and improving the existing system.”
Commission President Michael Orenstein said the fees would be a significant expense for the state.
“It’s the first step, and it’s a very, very good one,” he said.
The state’s electric utility, New Jersey Electric Power Authority, estimates the cost to repair and maintain electric cables at about $2 billion.
The Edison Electric Institute, a nonprofit research group, estimates that the state will spend more than $10 billion repairing and replacing power lines.
The utility said last week that it had invested more than half a billion dollars in the grid over the past four years.
New York state is the nation ‘s largest consumer of power, and the utility company’s investments have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state and created $100 billion in annual economic activity.