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    Public forums on power line plan

    PSE&G will hold sessions next week
    Friday, December 12, 2008
    BY KRISTEN ALLOWAY
    Star-Ledger Staff

    Residents concerned or curious about the $750 million, 45-mile power line planned for North Jersey can attend public workshops next week to learn more about the project.

    PSE&G will have about 20 staff on hand at meetings in Morris and Sussex counties on Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions about its proposed 500-kilovolt line from Hardwick in Warren County, through Sussex and Morris coun ties, to Roseland in Essex.

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    The line has been mandated by PJM Interconnection, an organization that oversees the regional power grid in 13 states, and PSE&G says it will prevent electri cal overloads and blackouts in northern New Jersey.

    The project includes installing 180- to 190-foot towers, about twice the height of what is along the route now, to accommodate the existing 230-kilovolt line and the new 500-kilovolt one.

    Local officials, residents and environmental groups have raised questions about the plans -- from the need for the power lines to how they will affect the environment to whether they will cause health is sues.

    The workshops, which run from 5 to 8 p.m., will be a "trade-show" format, with different stations set up where attendees can ask specific questions.

    "There's no formal presentation," said PSE&G spokesperson Karen Johnson. "It's really to give that individual attention, which people have said they appreciate."

    PSE&G sent letters to 4,300 residents who live within 1,000 feet of the lines, telling them about the public sessions.

    Johnson said the utility realized scheduling the workshops one and two weeks before the winter holidays could make it problematic for some residents to attend. But the company expects to apply for state approval later this month, and it wanted to have the public sessions before that, Johnson said.

    "We know it could be a difficult time with the holidays. We also felt it was important to have the workshops in advance of filing the (Board of Public Utilities) applica tion," she said.

    Next week's public sessions are the second round this month. About 120 people attended similar workshops this week.

    Scott Olson, a councilman in Byram, one of the towns the lines will pass through, said he attended this week and may go again next week to learn more about the project and to catch up with other local officials who have concerns.

    "We have seen no plans, we've seen no formal application," Olson said. He said he would prefer PSE&G hold smaller meetings in each town along the planned route.

    "I have people in my town who would like to come out at 7:30 on a Thursday to a planning board meeting to express their concerns," Olson said.

    Johnson said PSE&G has not decided if it will hold additional public meetings in the New Year.

    The sessions will be held Dec. 16 at the Hanover Marriott, Route 10, Whippany, and Dec. 17 at the Holiday Inn Express, 6 North Park Drive, Newton.

    Kristen Alloway may be reached at (973) 539-7910 or kalloway@star ledger.com.


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