The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) selection of the route preferred by Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) and PPL Electric Utilities Corp. is a major step forward for the Susquehanna-Roseland project, a regional power line that will prevent overloads on other power lines.
The park service selection of the utilities' route as the NPS Preferred Alternative, part of the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement process, is a milestone for the project. Utility executives pledged to continue to work closely with the park service to finalize details of a major land purchase that will benefit the public and the environment.
Mitigation is a routine part of the environmental impact review process when there are impacts on federal lands from power lines or other infrastructure improvements needed by society. Mitigation typically is required by federal agencies for impacts that cannot be avoided. Under the mitigation package proposed by PPL Electric Utilities and PSE&G, thousands of acres of land would be purchased or preserved. The value of the package will depend on the final assessment of impacts by the NPS, but the utilities' estimate the cost would be US$30 million to $40 million.
The Susquehanna-Roseland power line is being built to maintain the reliability of the electric grid for millions of people in the Northeast. In addition, it is estimated that the project will save consumers more than $200 million per year by relieving congestion on the power grid, which will reduce electric bills for some customers.
The Susquehanna-Roseland power line will run from Berwick, Pennsylvania, to Roseland, New Jersey. The independent regional power grid operator, PJM Interconnection, ordered the new line to prevent violations of national standards for the operation of the nation's electric power grid.
About 95% of this 145-mile (233-km)route would follow the path of an existing 85-year-old power line that must be replaced because it is nearing the end of its useful life and is undersized for today's electricity demands.
The Obama administration selected the Susquehanna-Roseland line as one of seven transmission lines nationwide for fast-track treatment by the administration's Rapid Response Team for Transmission. The team is expected to streamline the review and permitting of transmission line projects to increase reliability and save consumers money by modernizing the grid. The project will create about 2,000 jobs during its three-year construction period.
The NPS expects to issue a Record of Decision on the Susquehanna-Roseland project by Oct. 1. The utilities are planning to have the power line in service in time to meet peak summer electricity demand in 2015.