The Obama administration announced Wednesday its support for fast-tracking the Susquehanna-Roseland project—a plan to build high-voltage power lines on towers running from Warren County through Sussex and Morris Counties.
The proposal—which has drawn criticism from environmental groups as well as several of the affected towns—would include a 145-mile long 500 kV transmission line from the Susquehanna Substation in Pennsylvania to the Roseland Substation in New Jersey, and several 500-230 kV substations in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The power line proposal has been under review by the National Parks Service, as it would run through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.The Obama administration states that it's expected to be in service by spring of 2015, and cites statements from the developer than more than 2,000 jobs would be created in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
The Susquehanna-Roseland line would be one of seven to be put on an accelerated schedule, as part of an effort to create jobs and modernize the electric grid, the administration said Wednesday.
“The president wants to get America working again. He is committed to cutting red tape and making immediate investments to put people to work modernizing our roads, bridges, airports, and energy systems,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “Building a smarter electric grid will create thousands of American jobs and accelerate the growth of domestic clean energy industries translating into more energy choices and cost savings for American consumers, and a more secure energy future for our country.”
The administration said the projects would serve as pilot demonstrations of streamlined federal permitting and increased cooperation at the federal, state, and tribal levels.
It says its recently formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission, comprised of nine agencies, would work to coordinate permitting, review and consultations schedules among agencies to get things moving along faster and more smoothly. It would work to resolve conflicts between agencies and keep them all on schedules.
“It’s clear the administration recognizes the importance of this transmission system upgrade that will maintain electric reliability for millions of people in our region,” Ralph LaRossa, president of PSE&G, said in a statement from his company. “Since this project was announced, we have been working closely with state and federal agencies such as the National Park Service to ensure a timely review and approval of permits that are needed before work can begin. We fully understand and support a thorough assessment. At the same time, utilities need the ability to make these critical system upgrades in a timely manner. The Rapid Response Team is a welcome addition to the federal permitting process.”
The Susquehanna-Roseland project follows an existing power line for the entire 45-mile length and would pass through 16 municipalities: Andover, Boonton Township, Byram, East Hanover, Fredon, Hardwick, Hopatcong Borough, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Montville, Newton, Parsippany, Rockaway, Roseland, Sparta and Stillwater.
The New Jersey Sierra Club—which along with other groups has challenged the need for the project, saying energy demands have dropped—said Wednesday it was "troubled" by the fast-track process. "The unnecessary Susquehanna-Roseland line will bring dirty coal power into New Jersey while cutting across our public lands. The project is being used by PSE&G to allow for increased exports of cleaner energy produced in state to New York City, where they can charge higher rates.
"The purpose of the Susquehanna-Roseland line is to bring in dirty coal power from Pennsylvania. The president is wrong; this project is not about renewable energy and will not create long term jobs," said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club. "The Susquehanna-Roseland line undermines green energy jobs as we invest in antiquated technology instead of a smart grid, energy efficiency, and demand response programs."
The Sierra club noted the National Park Service is expected to make a decision on the project until January 2013.
"This new pilot project could jeopardize the NPS environmental review and put our public lands at risk," it said in a prepared statement.
Other projects fast-tracked under the initiative announced Wednesday would be in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin.