By Paul Kurtz

NEWARK, N.J. (CBS) — The New Jersey-based utility Public Service Electric & Gas wants to take steps to protect its infrastructure from Atlantic storms, which are becoming more intense and destructive.

Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, and last October’s ice storm have clearly demonstrated to PSE&G officials that global warming is a reality, so they’re asking the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to approve a plan to spend  as much as $4 billion over the next decade to strengthen its defense system.

PSE&G’s Mike Jennings says one area they’re looking at is protecting critical installations against flooding.

“A number of these would be raised or relocated so they would be on higher ground,” Jennings tells KYW Newsradio, “but we would also build flood walls and in some cases we would be upgrading the equipment so the equipment could withstand being submerged in water.”

They also want to make natural gas lines less prone to breakage.

Critics say the $4-billion price tag would cause monthly customer bills to go up. But PSE&G contends  that the cost of the project would be offset by current economic conditions which include low interest rates and lower natural gas costs.

Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council special report, “Stormproofing the Delaware Valley