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PSE&G session discusses 500-kilovolt project planned through county



NEWTON -- When Peter Labrum heard his property was "unique," he said he got worried.

"Unique? I had all kinds of thoughts," he said Tuesday evening after talking to experts from Public Service Electric & Gas, who are proposing to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line that will pass about 50 feet from his house in the Lake Mohawk section of Byram.

What's unique, he found out, is the closeness of his home to an existing transmission tower and the possible need for construction crews to access the tower over his land.

Labrum was one of about 60 people who showed up for a public information session at the Holiday Inn Express. The session had experts in various fields, from health to engineering, available to answer questions from the public in one-on-one sessions.

The proposed line would follow the existing right-of-way through southern Sussex County, cutting across the towns of Stillwater, Fredon, Newton, Andover, Byram and Sparta. In all, the New Jersey section of the route will cover about 46 miles with about 75 new towers, which are being designed to hold the existing 230-kilovolt transmission lines as well as the new 500-kilovolt lines. PSE&G will have a second session Dec. 17, again at the Holiday Inn Express on North Park Drive. The hours will be from 5-8 p.m.

Many of the final details have yet to be decided, according to John Ribardo, manager of transmission projects for the utility. He said the sites of the new towers have been plotted along with probable access roads, but test borings still need to be done to determine just how the tower bases will be constructed and whether the individual towers will be a lattice construction, similar to what's already along the line, or a monopole design. The company already has decided to use reverse phase, also known as split phase, wiring, which drastically will lower the electromagnetic fields around the lines.

Those magnetic fields, which are created by all electric devices, have raised health concerns. Some studies have suggested a possible link between the fields and cancers; other studies have shown there is no cause and effect.

Labrum said he came to the meeting because having the lines that close to his home "will have an effect on my property, my property values and the health of my family." He said he sought the information because "I didn't want to sit and watch the parade go by and then one day find people working out there in my back yard."

Created: 12/9/2008 | Updated: 12/9/2008


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