Trenton, NJ – This year, the New Jersey Utilities Association (NJUA), the statewide trade association for investor-owned utilities that provide essential water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications services to New Jersey residents and businesses, will celebrate its 100th anniversary. In conjunction with its centennial celebration, NJUA has launched a new website, and will return its annual conference in June 2015 to Atlantic City. NJUA moved its conference outside of Atlantic City during the 1940’s, but wishes to celebrate its 100th by supporting Atlantic City as it strives to meet new challenges.
“It is a pleasure to welcome NJUA as they return for their annual conference here in Atlantic City. The various companies that comprise the membership of the organization have been serving our residents faithfully over the years. It is an honor to be able to host their members in our City and show how we “DO AC” with top notch conference facilities along with world class dining, entertainment and shopping,” said Don Guardian, Mayor of Atlantic City.
New Jersey’s investor-owned utilities are a critical force in supporting the State’s economy. NJUA’s 16 member companies serve nearly seven million residential customer accounts and one million non-residential customer accounts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They employ almost 28,000 men and women with combined annual payroll in excess of $2.5 billion, and they contribute $837 million in annual revenues in various local and state taxes.
NJUA’s members own and operate physical infrastructure valued at more than $37 billion and have been making capital expenditures in New Jersey averaging more than $4.4 billion per year – investment that strengthens and enhances the State’s critical infrastructure.
NJUA was founded in February 1915 to establish a unified voice on state legislation, as representatives from nearly 100 private utility companies operating in New Jersey joined together with the purpose of working together for mutual interest and benefit.
Early NJUA members represented a broad range of organizations, including some that have disappeared over time, such as telegraph companies and canal operators, and others that became government entities, like subways and railroads. But today, NJUA’s membership still includes many of the same industries as 100 years ago: water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications.
“The founders of NJUA would be amazed to see how the organization has grown. We’ve become a primary resource for New Jersey’s policymakers across a wide range of issues, from regulatory policy, to the environment, to economic development,” said Vince Maione, chairman of NJUA’s Board of Directors and president of Atlantic City Electric Company.
Public perception of the utility industry has varied over time, but NJUA has continually worked to educate the community and public officials about the challenges facing the utility industry and its enormous economic and social benefits.
The Great Depression, two world wars and security concerns throughout the century brought unique challenges, which NJUA helped its members face – and thereby protected both the industry and the public from further hardship.
In the 1930s, NJUA helped to stave off a movement toward increased government ownership of utilities and with its members, began understanding the importance of educating the public about the role of investor-owned utilities in the community, both as a service providers and employer.
In the 1940s, several major storms caused severe damage and power outages across large areas of the state. NJUA helped its members plan how to quickly address these problems and lessen future storm-related service interruptions.
World War II brought growing security concerns to the utility industry. With support from NJUA, New Jersey’s companies became the first utilities in the country to develop specific plans for protection against sabotage, espionage and other enemy action.
As environmental concerns related to power generation grew in the 1970s and ’80s, New Jersey instituted its Energy Master Plan (EMP) through a 1987 law. NJUA has been active in commenting on subsequent drafts of the EMP regarding the need for utility company involvement, as well as on specific policy issues.
In the late 1990s, the state began to deregulate the energy industry, which enabled consumers to choose their power supplier. While NJUA supported the overall approach of deregulation, the Association actively advocated for a number of protections, including the establishment of policies to ensure that any rate reductions would not jeopardize utility companies’ financial health, to provide for meaningful customer choice and to require that public information about the benefits of deregulation is realistic.
As the new millennium arrived, NJUA has focused primarily on investment in the state’s aging infrastructure and convening member companies to address evolving security concerns, including cybersecurity and the protection of physical infrastructure.
“Utility companies are a major driver behind the state’s economy, continually investing huge amounts in New Jersey’s infrastructure,” said Andrew Hendry, president of NJUA. “The nature of utilities will likely change over the next 100 years, but NJUA will continue to be their voice.”
To learn more about NJUA, visit www.njua.com.