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Power lines may mar the scenery
As you drive along the
bumpy, country road towards the pristine waters of Splitrock Reservoir,
the only signs of civilization are the 80-foot high, lattice power line
towers that cut a path through the 1,500 acres of preservation land in
Rockaway Township. In summer, when the leaves are on the trees, the
towers are only minimally visible from certain angles. However, the
500-kilovolt power line that Public Service Electric and Gas is
proposing to cut across the Garden State would require more than double
the tower height currently in place.
part of the proposed Susquehanna-Roseland powerline expansion project,
which would carry three times the power running through the existing
lines, giant monopoles 180 -200 feet high that would have to be built.
At that height, the poles would be highly visible for miles and miles.
about the visual, environmental, financial and health impact of the
PSE&G plan, environmental and municipal representatives gathered
recently at Splitrock Reservoir, in the heart of New Jersey’s Highlands
Region. The groups represented a broad range of constituencies with a
similar message: a project of this scope and size must meet the natural
and scenic resource requirements of the 2004 Highlands Water Protection
and Planning Act.
Highlands Act was adopted to protect the region's water quality and
sensitive lands. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
should enforce the law and reject PSE&G's request to skirt around
the protections of the Act," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive
director, Environment New Jersey.
Highlands Act "routine maintenance and operations, rehabilitation,
preservation, reconstruction, repair, or upgrade of public utility
lines” is allowed with the provision that the activity is consistent
with the goals and purposes of the environmental law. In order to
move the project forward PSE&G has applied for the Highlands Act
exemption, known as a Highlands Applicability Determination (HAD).
current proposal cutting through the most environmentally sensitive
lands in the Highlands, is grossly inconsistent with the mandatory
resource protection elements of the Highlands Act, to ensure the future
integrity of the region and sustainable water supplies for more than
half of New Jersey’s residents,” stated Mark Zakutansky of the New
Jersey Highlands Coalition.
Highlands Act exempts 17 types of activities from strict preservation
area rules: certain projects with prior approvals, construction of a
single-family dwelling on an existing lot, etc. PSE&G’s proposed
power line expansion is the first project of this scope and magnitude
to come before the NJDEP for such an exemption. It is also the first
project of this nature requiring the NJDEP to determine if it is
“consistent with the goals and purposes of the Highlands Act.”
spokeswoman Karen Hershey said that due to the complexity of the
project there is no estimate as to when the department will make a
decision about the exemption.
claims that the high voltage line is necessary to maintain electric
system reliability for customers throughout the region. In a statement
the company advised that they would “negotiate construction access
agreements as appropriate.”
the prep and site work remain a serious concern for local leaders.
"Construction work for this project poses a threat to environmentally
sensitive lands - steep slopes adjacent, groundwater recharge areas and
threatened and endangered species habitat," observed Scott Olson, a
Byram Township councilman. "To ensure no harm is done to these
resources, this project must be put through a necessary and thorough
scrutiny and review by the Highlands Council."
of the considerable impacts that construction of the taller towers may
have on the landscape and scenic integrity of the region, these
representatives have approached the NJDEP. They are asking that the
Highlands Council be charged with conducting a consistency review of
PSE&G’s Highlands Applicability Determination (HAD) application to
ensure that the project is consistent with the Highlands Act and will
not threaten the resources that the Legislature set forth for
power line will cut an ugly scar through the Highlands destroying
wetlands, harming our environment and promoting development in the
region,” stated Jeff Tittel director NJ Sierra Club. “The Highlands
Council, the NJDEP and the BPU must do their job by using oversight and
strictly enforcing laws and regulations to stop this horrible project.”
government leaders have banded together to fight, as a group for
people’s rights. The Coalition of Concerned Municipalities includes
Andover, Byram, East Hanover, Fredon, Montville, Newton,
Parsippany-Troy Hills and Stillwater.
addition there is a grassroots campaign being waged against the
proposed power line. Dave Slaperud of Stop the Lines, a citizen-based
group representing hundreds of affected landowners along the line,
contends that adding a 500Kv line to the existing 230Kv line is
unnecessary, excessive, and a threat to the natural resources.
project is a huge and very real threat to our environment,” he said,
“that would include drilling and blasting. The idea of de-construction
of existing towers and construction of nearly 200-foot monstrous towers
through some of the most beautiful areas in New Jersey is an assault on
our residents and the environment. Faced with a slowing demand for more
energy (~1 percent per year), we certainly do not need a 700 percent
increase in transmission capacity through the state.”
6, PSE&G announced that it plans to file a formal application with
the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) before the end of the
year. The BPU will have the opportunity to review the project and
ensure that it is necessary for reliability and is appropriate
considering the wide range of investments New Jersey is planning in
terms of renewable energy sources as outlined in the New Jersey Energy
Rockaway Township the line passes through mostly non-residential areas;
however, there could be an unintended consequence for residents.
Although they said that the official information is proprietary and
therefore can’t be confirmed, both Olson and Zakutansky agree that the
proposed line would make the biomass project currently in the
application process in the township, “more viable.”
biomass plant were to open, the power would have to go somewhere, so
having the capacity of the larger lines would make it easier
transport,” said Zakutansky.
$650,000 Susquehanna-Roseland Project being proposed would be built
between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The selected route, Route B,
begins in Hardwick Township, Warren County, proceeds east to Andover
Township, Sussex County, and on to Jefferson Township, Morris County.
The route continues east to Montville Township and then turns south to
Roseland Borough, Essex County.
follows an existing power line for the entire 45-mile length and will
pass through 15 municipalities: Andover, Boonton Township, Byram, East
Hanover, Fredon, Hardwick, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Montville, Newton,
Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Township, Roseland, Sparta and
Cindy Forrest can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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