Power line hearings complete; final decision expected Jan. 15
By SETH AUGENSTEINsaugenstein@njherald.com
— The evidence is in, and now the waiting will begin for the final
decision on the Susquehanna-Roseland power line question.
company PSE&G and various opponents of the 500-kilovolt
transmission “superhighway” finished building the information record
Monday at the state’s Board of
Public Utilities office. The
completion marked the end of five full days of a dozen lawyers
cross-examining witnesses, questioning statistics, debating national
energy policy, and generally arguing over the future decades of
electricity in the Northeast and beyond.
The BPU decision is expected in January.
tackled during the hearings included routing, construction methods,
energy needs, electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs), and property values
near the lines.
The need issue, heard Thursday and Friday, is
considered to be the climax in the hearings, and could be the main
decider in the controversial power plans before the BPU. The plans
propose erecting a power line that would double the height and power of
a 45-mile Garden State stretch running from Pennsylvania through Sussex
County, and onto Roseland, in Essex County. Roughly 18 miles of the
length are in Sussex County, from Stillwater, to Fredon, Newton,
Andover, Byram, Hopatcong and Sparta,
before the line moves on to Morris County.
the state’s largest electric utility, said it needs to build the line
and have it operating by 2012 to meet the electricity demands and
reliability requirements expected for the region in the coming decades.
PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, identified the need of
the new line in 2007 and proposed the route last year.
have rallied around several issues, including safety and health issues,
the potential environmental damage the construction project will do,
the visual and property value impact of the towers, and whether
bringing in electricity generated in other states meets New Jersey’s
goals of increasing so-called “green” and renewable sources of power.
lawyers will work on legal briefs due Dec. 28, with response briefs due
Jan. 6. The full board is expected to review all the evidence, debate
its merits, then issue its decision Jan. 15.
line would be the first 500-kilovolt conductor of power in New Jersey,
and is seen by most of the objectors as an important indicator of the
nation’s energy future. PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson said
the “burden of proof” for the need of the line is placed on the
company. However, power lines in other states have a consistent record
of approval by utility boards in other states.
they are not deterred. Dave Slaperud, co-founder of Fredon-based Stop
the Lines, said he was hopeful the state would reject the plans.
needs to prove that this proposed expansion is ‘reasonably necessary’
for the welfare of the public,” Slaperud said. “The record will show
that based on the fact that energy demand has dropped in our area for
three consecutive years, this proposal is not ‘necessary.’ We are
hopeful that the BPU will make the right decision for New Jersey, its
citizens, and the ratepayers in the PJM grid.”
Johnson said PSE&G and its attorneys would be working ahead on its legal documents.
“We look forward to the next step in the process,” she said.