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Power Line Will Destroy Our Parks Sierra Club Response to PPL Spin

Date : Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:30:05 -0500

Response to PPL Spin

/For Immediate Release/
January 31, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, 609-558-9100

*Power Line Will Destroy Our Parks*

/Sierra Club Response to PPL Spin///

PPL and PSEG cannot mitigate for impacts to our treasured National Parks.Today the two companies issued more information on their proposed mitigation plan for the Susquehanna-Roseland line as it cuts across 3 National Park units, but the No Build alternative is the only option that will have no environmental impacts on our parks.The only people and organizations that support the line are those that will benefit financially, whether through doing mitigation plans or constructing the line.They are not looking at the economic benefit the parks provide to the region with 5 million visitors each year.The tourism industry contributes more to the local economy than 2,000 short term construction jobs. The No Build alternative is the only route that protects our parks and the local economy.

“The parks are the economic engines for the area and will be jeopardized if park resources are destroyed by this project.The NPS must deny this project and select the route that is best for our environment and our parks, the “No Build” Alternative.The ‘No Build’ is the best alternative and does not cost anything,” *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club*. “These public lands belong to all of us and are held in the public trust.There is no way to reverse the impacts 200 foot towers in the middle of the parks will have on our scenic vistas and visitor experience.” The companies make these claims on a day when thousands of people have sent in comments to the National Park Service opposing this project and the impacts it will have on our parks.Today the Sierra Club alone submitted comments collected from over 6,000 members in New Jersey and Pennsylvania calling for the No Build alternative. The companies claim that they have rights to cut through the Parks due to the existing line.However the transmission line would have never been allowed through a National Park and was supposed to be removed if Tock's Island Dam was built. Demand response and energy efficiency have been working to address reliability concerns in New Jersey.We have seen the reliability violations this project is predicated on dropping significantly, now down to about five and many of those are in case of double contingency events such as if a car crash took out one section of the grid at the same time as a tree fell in another section.We should be investing in clean energy solutions such as demand response and energy efficiency and not antiquated coal-by-wire transmission lines. The $30 million comes off the backs of the ratepayers anyway, not the corporations.The more PPL and PSEG spend on mitigation the more they make since they are guaranteed almost 13% profit on expenditures for the transmission line.They will spend $30 million in mitigation and make $4 million in additional profit. The mitigation plan is about buying people off not actually protecting the environment.Groups that should be opposing the power lines are now working with the companies instead of protecting the resources of the region.This is green pay-to-play.

“This is not mitigation, this is a rationalization.The resources of the park will be impaired and damaged by this line, undermining the public trust in our National Parks. The Susquehanna-Roseland line will have permanent negative impacts on our parks and the utilities cannot make up for this kind of destruction by buying lands in other places,” *said Jeff Tittel*. The project will allow for the production of more coal-fired energy in Pennsylvania, creating more coal pollution that will impact people’s health while they are using the parks.This project violates the Haze Rule which calls for cleaning up the air in our National Parks for both environmental and scenic purposes.Constructing the Susquehanna-Roseland line, a superhighway for coal-fired energy, continues our dependence on fossil fuels at a time when we should be investing in clean energy solutions.

“Our National Parks belong to all of us.John Muir called them ‘the cathedral of nature’.This power line is a desecration of our parks and NPS needs to choose the “No Build” alternative to stop this.The Susquehanna-Roseland line will be visible from across the park and Appalachian Trail, creating a scar on the landscape and more air pollution in our parks that cannot be mitigated and will affect future generations,” *said Jeff Tittel*, *Director, NJ Sierra Club*.

*From:*NewsfromPPL_at_pplweb.mediaroom.com [mailto:NewsfromPPL_at_pplweb.mediaroom.com] *Sent:* Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:31 AM *Subject:* Chosen Route is Best for Susquehanna-Roseland Project, Utilities Say News Release Issued: January 31, 2012 9:30 AM EST

 Chosen Route is Best for Susquehanna-Roseland Project, Utilities Say

   PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Electric and Gas Provide     Additional Details of Major Land Purchases Offered to National Park     Service as Mitigation ALLENTOWN, Pa., Jan. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The utilities' chosen route for the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project <http://www.pplreliablepower.com/index.htm> is the best alternative for the power line needed by millions of electric customers in the region, the companies building the project told the National Park Service in formal comments filed Tuesday (1/31). Public Service Electric and Gas Co. and PPL Electric Utilities Corp. <http://www.pplelectric.com/> also provided more details on their proposal to mitigate for unavoidable impacts of the project by preserving thousands of acres of land to enhance public enjoyment of natural resources in the area. Below is a summary of key points in the utilities' comments:

*Other NPS alternatives would have more impact:* Other alternative routes proposed by the National Park Service would require the companies to cut new corridors through forests and communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This would require significantly more forest clearing. The companies' route – already approved by regulators in both states – uses a corridor that already exists.

*Utilities' route follows existing power line corridor through NPS areas: * There already is a transmission line through the three areas of the National Park Service. The line was there decades before the park units were created. Using the pre-existing, cleared corridor for the Susquehanna-Roseland project makes the most sense to limit overall regional impact.

*"No-action" alternative does not prevent impacts:* If the National Park Service chooses the "no action" alternative, the utilities still will need to rebuild the 85-year-old transmission line that now crosses the three NPS units. This reconstruction project will have the same construction impacts as the utilities' chosen alternative, and will replace the current lattice-style towers with steel poles between 130 feet and 160 feet high, as required by today's design standards. In addition, "no action" could lead to reliability problems in the Northeast power grid.

*Utilities already have property rights through NPS lands: *The companies have an existing property easement through the three National Park Service units that provides the legal right to rebuild the existing power line. The line must be rebuilt because it is nearing the end of its useful life. Susquehanna-Roseland project does not require significant widening of existing right of way: The current utility corridor through the three National Park Service units is four miles long with widths of up to 200 feet. The only additional right of way and clearing needed by the utilities to build the Susquehanna-Roseland line is 50 feet of additional right of way for 0.7 miles where the corridor is now 100 feet wide. The draft environmental impact statement incorrectly states that the existing cleared corridor would have to be much wider.

*Additional information on mitigation* The utilities also provided additional detail on their proposal to mitigate for unavoidable impacts of the Susquehanna-Roseland project, if the National Park Service approves the utilities' chosen route. First, the utilities will avoid and minimize impacts by using best management practices during construction of the power line, including measures identified by the National Park Service in its draft environmental impact statement. The best way to minimize impact is to use the existing corridor rather than cutting new corridors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the comments said. Recognizing that building the Susquehanna-Roseland line would have unavoidable impacts, the utilities have proposed as compensatory mitigation the purchase or preservation of thousands of acres of land – identified as priorities by conservation groups – to expand public landholdings, to support the mission of the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, and to enhance the enjoyment of the public. Areas and agencies that would benefit directly from these purchases would be:

 * Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.   * Appalachian National Scenic Trail.   * Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge.   * Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River.   * New Jersey and Pennsylvania state land conservation agencies.   * Other natural, conservation and recreational agencies and interests. The companies already have identified parcels on the market, and have matched this list to the priorities identified as particularly important to the mission of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and other conservation agencies and groups. The final value of the mitigation package will depend on the final assessment of impacts determined by the National Park Service. The utilities believe, based on their own estimates at this time, that the cost of land purchases would be $30 million to $40 million. The utilities would establish and endow the Middle Delaware Mitigation Fund, to be administered by a nonprofit organization. Monies from the fund would be used to preserve, restore and enhance the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River. The utilities would provide half the money for the fund when construction begins in either the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area or across the Appalachian Trail, and would provide the balance of the funds when construction is complete and the Susquehanna-Roseland power line is placed in service.

"We have made a compelling case that our chosen route is the overall best path to provide for the needs of electric customers while minimizing impacts," said Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G, and David G. DeCampli, president of PPL Electric Utilities, in a joint statement.

"Our mitigation proposal would provide significant benefits for the public, and would more than offset unavoidable impacts of this needed project." The National Park Service has said it will announce its decision on the route in March. The new Susquehanna-Roseland power line is being built to maintain the reliability of the electric grid for millions of people in the Northeast region. In addition, it 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 new power line will run from Berwick, Pa., to Roseland, N.J. 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. PJM recently reconfirmed the need for the line. Construction of the line will create thousands of jobs for the region. PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com <http://www.pplelectric.com/>. SOURCE PPL Electric Utilities For further information: Paul Wirth, PPL Electric Utilities, +1-610-774-5997

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