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    Township Journal > Opinion
    Updated: April 22, 2009

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    Proposed power line upgrade needs a full and fair review

    PSE&G’s Susquehanna-Roseland line has been in the planning queue since before 2005. The original purpose of this and of several other proposed new power lines was to transport additional cheap, coal-generated energy into the northeast from western Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. It is known to energy-insiders as “Project Mountaineer,” a plan to expedite coal mining and electricity production in these states for sale to the New York metropolitan region. Susquehanna-Roseland is the eastern end of Project Mountaineer “Line 1.”

    Much has changed in the last few years, and increased coal-generated electricity is certainly not in the best interest of the citizens of New Jersey. In fact, our recent Energy Master Plan n and the plans of the Obama Administration n places greater emphasis on initiatives for clean, renewable energy, including solar and offshore wind projects. Switching to clean energy will be a gradual process, but is being demanded by the public.

    When renewables are discussed, energy companies quickly claim that increased transmission capacity is needed to move this clean energy from where it is produced to where it is needed. That may be true in some cases n like transmitting electricity from large solar farms in the desert where there are currently no transmission lines. But in most cases, the existing transmission line infrastructure is more than adequate.

    Energy companies frequently use the term congestion when referring to lines in the northeast. Electric congestion has nothing to do with lines not having enough capacity. It’s not like backed-up traffic. There is more than enough transmission capacity. This definition of congestion refers to difficulty in getting cheap, coal-generated electricity to where it can be sold for maximum profit.

    The energy companies claim that lines in our area risk “overloads and blackouts” beginning in 2012. We are not sure what definition of overload they are using when they make this claim. Their own estimates indicate increased annual energy demand of less than 1.5 percent during peak demand. Many states, including California, have implemented “demand side management” to lessen demand during peak usage. There are techniques that can be used to lower peak demand, without building more lines.

    Regarding potential blackouts, scientists are predicting severe solar storms are possible. Similar storms have caused localized blackouts in the past. Perhaps money would be better spent looking at ways to prevent those storms from causing blackouts.

    Another claim is that the future use of electric cars will require greater transmission capacity. We don’t know when, or if, that is going to happen, but many renewable energy advocates envision electric cars being plugged in as storage devices when not in use n feeding the grid during peak energy use times, and re-charging when demand is less.

    The energy companies love to dismiss the potential human health consequences of EMF’s (electromagnetic fields). They compare their lines to appliances that emit high levels of EMF’s for short periods of time. What they don’t tell you is that it is long-term exposure to EMF’s that is hazardous. For example, if you live near high-voltage transmission lines, with 5 milligaus EMF readings in your house and spend 15 hours per day there, you are being exposed to an average of 3.125 milligaus per 24 hours. Studies show that exposure to more than 1.0 milligaus per 24 hours may be hazardous over extended periods of time. We need to use precaution when it comes to exposure and the potential health consequences.

    At least seven municipalities, and eight groups or individuals that have filed Motions to Intervene in the Board of Public Utilities review process, to assure that the BPU can make a full and fair review of this proposed project and all of the facts are put into the record. It is BPU’s job to determine if this project is reasonably necessary for the welfare of the public. The way this project is currently proposed seems far from reasonable.

    David Slaperud

    Trustee n Stop The Lines


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