N.J. environmental coalition asking Gov. Corzine to veto plan for Highlands power line

Posted by mrispoli July 15, 2009 18:50PM

A coalition of environmental groups and citizen activists wants Gov. Jon Corzine to veto the minutes of the most recent state Highlands Council meeting, saying the board's approval of Public Service Electric & Gas' plan to cut through the Highlands region to install a new power transmission line violates environmental rules.

They also charge that some council members had conflicts of interest when they voted last month.

A view of PSE&G's Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line in Montville. A proposal by PSE&G would more than triple the line's current size and capacity.

Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey branch of the Sierra Club, said a veto by Corzine would, in effect, negate actions taken by the Highlands Council on June 25, wiping out a vote to allow the proposed 45-mile, $750 million high-voltage Susquehanna-Roseland power line to cut through the environmentally sensitive Highlands of North Jersey.

"This is a key test of the governor's commitment to the environment, to prove he will back up his words that he is committed to clean energy and the Highlands,'' said Tittel.

Corzine spokesman Robert Corrales said the governor's office is reviewing the request.

The Highlands Council voted 8-2 in favor of granting PSE&G a special exemption for its project. The majority said the Highlands Act clearly called for the council to consider future economic needs of the region, allowing for exemptions for future utility system needs.

Council members lauded PSE&G for amending its original plan by altering the route of the proposed line, reducing the number of towers, pledging to create a mitigation plan backed by a minimum $4 million bond and offering an $18.6 million fund for future land preservation and stewardship needs.

PSE&G still must get state Board of Public Utilities approval and also may need to get the project past federal energy officials, council members stressed.

Opponents testified the project would ravage the land and damage the region's natural beauty. In the letter to Corzine. they argued the $18.6 million offer could be considered a "bribe'' by the power company. They said council member Scott Whitenack of Morristown should not have voted because he works for a contractor that does business with PSE&G.

The letter was signed by representatives of the Sierra Club, New Jersey Environmental Federation, Pequannock River Coalition, Musconetcong Mountain Conservancy, Land Conservancy of New Jersey and Highlands Coalition, plus Stop The Lines, a coalition of opponents.

PSE&G contends the transmission line is needed to maintain reliability of the regional electricity grid. The proposed line would run from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, traveling from Hardwick in Warren County, through Sussex and Morris counties and to Roseland in Essex County.

The project would include installing 180- to 190-foot towers, twice the height of current towers, to accommodate an existing 230-kilovolt line and a new 500-kilovolt line.

A dozen Morris and Sussex counties towns have joined a coalition to fight the PSE&G plan.

Previous coverage

June 2 -- PSE&G offers $1K to property owners to build temporary roads for power-line project

May 28 -- Sussex County environmentalists to protest PSE&G's proposed power line in northern Jersey

March 3 -- Citizens group asks N.J. to block power-line project

Dec. 22, 2008 -- Highlands Council draft report recommends against high-voltage line

Nov. 18, 2008 -- Environmental groups call for state scrutiny of proposed power line

Nov. 11, 2008 -- PSE&G pulling end-run on power line, critics say

Oct. 28, 2008 -- North Jersey power line challenged over environmental concerns

Categories: Bergen County, Environment, Hunterdon County, Morris County, News, Passaic County, Somerset County, Statehouse, Sussex County, Utilities, Warren County


rounddollar says...

I'll like to find a way to cut power to Jeff Tittle.

randyright says...

"the project would ravage the land and damage the region's natural beauty" your in NJ, would you rather have a powerline (which by the way is already there) or low income(slums) housing ravaging the natural beauty.

smbizowner says...

Don't we need the power to run our lives? How are we supposed to get it without power lines??

Jery57 says...

I agree with N.J. environmentalists!
They are very good and caring people.
Let just start from cutting power from all houses that belongs to all N.J. environmentalists as soon as possible. That would save a lot of mice, buts, birds, squirrels and ...some electricity for the rest of us.

ssNJ says...

I actually hope this doesn't pass. I honestly don't want these HUGE towers in my background. I assume all the above posters do not live in Sussex County.

How would like this if it ran through your backyard?

ssNJ says...

I actually hope this is vetoed. I honestly don't want these HUGE towers in my backyard. I assume all the above posters do not live in Sussex County.

How would like this if it ran through your backyard?

tourn2 says...

Check this out you morons: Check out this link: http://blog.nj.com/njv_bill_wolfe/2008/03/powe_play_pseg_sale_to_nyc_rip.html

This powerline project is only needed by PSE&G to send electricity to NYC where prices are higher. NYC does not need our electricity. The project is the product of DEREGULATION AND CORPORATE GREED! You knuckleheads are all going to pay for it because PSE&G can charge the whole cost of the project to EVERYONE IN NJ! You smarta_s's don't deserve to have the "environmentalists" looking after your sorry welfare!

fanlou says...

I am againt this project. No need for it. It will increase our already high electric rates. How about cutting pay and perks of corporate offcers, who already make to much.