The PJM Interconnection Board, which operates the region's electrical grid, has approved $1.6 billion in electric transmission systems additions and upgrades for the grid that serves 51 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The upgrades are required to maintain reliability of the power supply system and keep the lights on in years ahead, PJM said.

To accomplish this 15-year plan, PJM's board has authorized almost $13.3 billion in investments.

The work includes a 500-kilovolt transmission line to be built in northern New Jersey.

The new backbone transmission project in New Jersey involves building a 500-kilovolt line from the Branchburg substation in Somerset County to Roseland substation in Essex County, and then continuing from Roseland to the Hudson substation, in Hudson County. The project is being built by Public Service Electric and Gas Company to address reliability violations in the region expected to develop by 2013.

Another portion of the work would eventually connect the Indian River substation on the Delmarva Peninsula with the Salem substation in New Jersey.

PJM Interconnection oversees the high-voltage electric power system serving 51 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.