NJ Powerline Push Gets OK from Board of Public Utilities

Jeff Tittel
Sierra Club New Jersey
Contact: Jeff Tittel 609.558.9100
Grace Sica 732.841.6103

BPU Mistakes Greed for Need

Newark - Today the Board of Public Utilities approved the proposed expansion of the Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line. The BPU's decision will allow PSE&G to push onto ratepayers the cost of importing cheap coal energy and undermining renewable energy.

PSE&G, and its Pennsylvania counterpart PP&L, have proposed to replace the current 230kV transmission line and add an additional 500kV line. To achieve the increase in transmission capacity they will need to build towers that are twice the current height, from 80 feet to 190 feet. The cumulative impact of constructing new towers, carving new access roads, and promoting coal powered energy in the mid-west will have profoundly negative impacts on the Highlands region, and air quality throughout the state of New Jersey.

"Unfortunately, it's no surprise that even though energy demand is down, the grid managers and utilities were able to write reports showing need for this project and pin the cost on ratepayers," said Grace Sica, Outreach Coordinator NJ Sierra Club. "The BPU just killed any real hope of clean energy and energy efficiency in New Jersey.""

PSE&G has contended that the power line expansion is needed to shore up electricity reliability in the state and plans to charge its New Jersey ratepayers $650 million to pay for the line expansion.

The line's potential electrical capacity can easily be met with green measures outlined in the state's Energy Master Plan (EMP). The state's EMP finalized by Governor Corzine in October 2008 plans to reduce electricity demand by 20% by 2020. In addition it would deliver as much if not more in-state electric generation than the line would pipe in, an estimated 6000 MW of new electric generating capacity from clean, renewable sources including 3000 MW of off-shore wind, 200 MW of on-shore wind, 2,100 MW of solar, and 900 MW of biomass.

"The BPU the Board of Promoting Utilities just sold out clean energy and the people of NJ," Jeff Tittel Director NJ Director Sierra Club. "Not only is this power line not need it will bring in dirty coal power from Pennsylvania undermining our attempts at developing renewable energy and clean energy jobs."

The Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line is one of many transmission lines being proposed around the country to move coal power to the best paying markets. Coal powered energy is a key source of carbon dioxide, and the co-pollutants include particulate matter, mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals.

The transmission line still needs approval from the National Park Service for the portion of the line that cuts through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Appalachian Trail. Three public hearings will be held next week to gather public comment on the scoping process for the project's Environmental Impact Statement.