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Sierra Club Calls on BPU to Rescind Susquehanna-Roseland Approval in Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Date : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 11:15:27 -0500

Susquehanna-Roseland Approval in Wake of Hurricane Sandy

For Immediate Release
January 9, 2013 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

*Sierra Club Calls on BPU to Rescind Susquehanna-Roseland Approval in Wake of Hurricane Sandy * Hurricanes Sandy and Irene have shown just how vulnerable our grid is to weather events.We need our utilities to undertake major updates including implementing smart grids, burying lines underground, and moving key infrastructure out of flood prone areas.Instead of focusing on local efforts to increase resiliency of the grid, PSE&G is continuing to move forward with their Susquehanna-Roseland project, which would import coal-fired power from Pennsylvania.Latest estimates for the project are $1.2 to 1.3 billion.They are also investing millions in a new transmission line from Roseland to Woodbridge.*The BPU should instead require that the money being invested in transmission should be going to improving our grid, putting lines underground, moving key infrastructure out of flood prone areas, renewable energy, demand response programs, distributive generation, and clearing the right-of-way.*Over 2.5 million residents lost power following Hurricane Sandy and many families were in the dark for over two weeks.The BPU should be holding PSE&G accountable and requiring them to take steps to prevent that from happening again, not increasing our dependence on polluting coal through transmission upgrades.

"The BPU needs to reconsider its approvals for the Susquehanna-Roseland line especially in light of the damage our grid sustained after Hurricane Sandy.The $1.2 billion slated for the transmission line should instead be spent in a way that will actually make our grid more reliable such as placing lines underground or moving key infrastructure," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The utilities failed to protect the power lines and electrical infrastructure leading up to the storm and are now rebuilding key infrastructure in the same vulnerable areas.We need better planning and to move key infrastructure out of harm's way instead of locating it flood prone or sensitive areas again and again.Some lines and substations have been replaced 3 times in last 13 months.We need PSE&G to invest in fixing these issues. Especially in the wake of Sandy, smart grid and renewable energy projects should be at the forefront.Renewable energy systems are more resilient in major weather events.Solar systems fared well through Hurricane Sandy with minimal to damage reported and the Atlantic City wind farm did not suffer any damage.Just last month a new wind farm in Alaska continued to work through a 5.9 magnitude earthquake. Instead PSEG is investing in transmission projects because they are guaranteed an 11.7% to 12.9% rate of return on projects such as the Susquehanna-Roseland line by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.In 2008 PSE&G spent $866 million on transmission; that investment will increase to $2.4 billion in 2014.

"Building these lines is a major source of profit for PSE&G.They make more money building these transmission lines than selling electricity.This money would be better invested in putting power lines underground, moving substations out of flood prone areas, distributive generation, clearing right-of-ways, and smart grids. While you are sitting in the dark, PSE&G is using your money to build power lines to nowhere instead of increasing local reliability," said Jeff Tittel. But the need for the Susquehanna-Roseland line and other transmission projects could be obviated by much less pricey investments in energy efficiency and demand response projects.Just last month the grid operator ISO-New England announced that they $1.2 billion they have invested in energy efficiency from 2008-2011 reduced energy use by over 3500 gigawatt-hours and precluded the need for $260 million in transmission projects.These projects would make our grid more reliable while better protecting our environment.

"These power lines have nothing to do with reliability or bringing power to your home.They are about bringing coal power into New Jersey so they can in turn sell cleaner power produced here to New York for more money.We produce enough electricity in New Jersey to meet our needs but PSE&G is taking over the Long Island Power Authority next year and will use these transmission lines to bring cheap power to that area," *said Jeff Tittel,* In November grid operator PJM announced the cancellation of two similar transmission expansion projects, the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) and the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH).The cancellation of the lines was based on falling demand, new generation plants, and the efficiency of demand response programs, the same issues opponents to the Susquehanna-Roseland line have raised. The BPU needs to fix the broken system where the utilities earn 12% each time they fix the same line that gets damaged in the storm versus burying them underground.The money from fixing the lines from storm damage and the unnecessary transmission lines can go a long way in making our grid more resilient and keeping our lights on each time the wind blows. When the power goes out it is not only an inconvenience it can put people in jeopardy.Some people are without heat and water for extended periods of time.These black outs cost peoples hundreds of dollars in thrown out food, appliances that could be blown out by power surges, and lost time at work.

"Every time the lights go out it creates misery for the people effected but hurts our economy and wallets and we need the utilities to use our money in ways that make the grid less vulnerable to future storms," said Jeff Tittel. The Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line will cause irreparable harm to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, eighth most visited park in the national park system, the Appalachian Trail, and the Middle Delaware River.This project undermines clean energy projects and would allow PSE&G to ship energy produced at its Ridgefield natural gas plant to New York and Long Island.

"Instead of fixing the problem PSE&G is making things worse by investing in building unnecessary power lines instead of investing in protecting its customers from blackouts.These power lines are about profit, not reliability.While people in New Jersey will be sitting in the dark with the lines going through the forest and past their homes, people in Long Island and New York City will have plenty of power " said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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