NJ-PA transmission line challenged

Friday, May 4, 2012

A New Jersey court is considering a challenge by environmental activists to a proposed high-voltage transmission line connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Proposed by PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Electric and Gas Co., the Susquehanna-Roseland line would run 145 miles from PPL's Susquehanna substation near Berwick, Pennsylvania to Roseland, New Jersey.  The route, which is nearly finalized, would cross three units of land managed by the National Park Service: the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River and National Recreation Water Trail, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. 

The Susquehanna-Roseland project has received the approval of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, as well as federal support in the form of an expedited permitting process.  Regional grid operator PJM Interconnection, LLC has also said that the line is essential to improving reliability and reducing transmission line congestion in the region.

At the same time, the line has drawn opposition from environmental groups and others.  The Sierra Club and other organizations have challenged the line as continuing a "reliance on toxic fossil fuels by shipping coal-fired power into New Jersey." Instead, the Sierra Club calls for increased use of demand response, energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet peak energy demands.  Other have challenged the project's proposed route through National Park Service lands, including widening some existing transmission corridors and associated road-building activity.

This past Wednesday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey heard oral argument over whether the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' approval of the project was valid.  Among the challenges raised was whether the BPU fully considered non-transmission alternatives to the line, such as demand response and energy efficiency.

While the court process concludes, the utility proponents believe that construction should not be affected by the lawsuits.  The line is expected to be placed in service by summer 2015.

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