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Raritan Valley Group > Issues > Susquehanna - Roseland power line
We had left this issue up to the Sierra Club groups in the North where the main line is to be installed, but now that it looks like a branch will come down to the Branchburg switching station we decided to stick our foot in the water.

Current developments:
Feb 2011 - The 9th Circuit Court eliminates the use of eminent domain to facilitate the construction of high voltage, interstate transmission lines.
See: www.conserveland.org/policy/utility/transmission/nietc
  In 2008, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and Piedmont Environmental Council, along with four other organizations and a Virginia County, filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) final designation of the Mid-Atlantic National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC). The 9th Circuit Court eliminates the corridor designations, ruling that DOE failed to conduct an environmental review as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and failed to consult with affected states. The National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, aka, the NIETCs? made it possible for utilities to use federal eminent domain (or threaten to use it) for the siting of transmission lines.

Status Feb. 2011

  • Susquehanna - Roseland line is on hold pending NEPA review by the Natl. Park Service review of alternate routes which will not be completed until 2012.
    Eminent domain court decisions may affect this ?
  • NJ DEP permits are still needed for wetlands and floodplain encroachments.
  • Two legal filings, one appealing BPU's decision and one appealing to BPU to reconsider decision in light of new facts re: demand/need are also potential roadblocks for the project.
Roseland - Branchburg extension:
Phase II of the project was to upgrade the existing 230 KV line from Roseland to Branchberg to 500 KV. In Oct. 2019 PJM's board of directors eliminated the $1 billion upgrade in favor of simply reconductoring the current towers (new, more efficient overhead lines).
Michael J. Kormas, senior vice president of operations, said in the release. "Our annual re-evaluation showed that, for this particular project, changes in demand growth and demand response reduced the number of expected overloads and that alternative upgrades could resolve the remaining problems." See Stories at:
Platts a global provider of energy information).
Echoes-Sentinel article "Power marketer scratches huge Long Hill power lines".
The underground cables referenced were to connect substations in Essex/Hudson counties.

The Branchburg substation capacitor farm addition. Still on but moved to a less objectionable part of their property. In PJM's executive summary http://www.pjm.com/documents/reports/~/media/documents/reports/2009-rtep/2009-section1.ashx they say< "Load growth remains a fundamental driver of transmission expansion plans.

Background:

In the 2007 PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection) Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP), they identified the Susquehanna Line as a necessary “baseline project” .

On June 6, 2008, PSE&G announced a "Reliability Project" that would upgrade a transmission line between the Susquehanna nuclear plant and switching station in Pennsylvania and PSE&am;G's switching station in Roseland, New Jersey. PSE&G plans to string a 500kV line next to the current line that carries 230kV. They will triple the transmission capacity to account for an estimated 1% growth in energy demand per year in the next four years. They will have to construct 75 new towers (both lattice structures and mono poles [Note monopoles may not work because of lower load capacity]) ranging from 180-195 feet in height, almost double the height of the current towers. Among three possible routes for the project, the developers have chosen the so-called route B. The New Jersey portion will pass through Hardwick Twp, Stillwater Twp, Fredon Twp, Newton, Andover Twp, Byram Twp, Sparta Twp, Jefferson Twp, Rockaway Twp, Kinnelon Boro, Boonton Twp, Montville Twp, Parsippany-Troy Hills Twp, East Hanover Twp, and end in Roseland Boro.
PSE&G will build two substations – one in Jefferson Township, Morris County and the other in the Roseland.

In addition the existing line from the Roseland switching station to the Branchburg switching station in Somerset County will be upgraded and the substation in Branchburg will be expanded.

Fall 2009 - The state Highlands Council approved it, after PSE&G offered a $18.6 million mitigation fee.

On February 11, 2010 the NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) Approved the plan

In a March 28, 2010 Star Ledger article a PSE&G spokesperson said:

"Since the existing line was put into service in the early 1930s, electricity usage in New Jersey has increased by more than 2,000 percent," said PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson. "The project is needed for reliability." Three separate analyses, she said, have determined that 23 transmission circuits in North Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania will be overloaded "as early as 2012, resulting in possible brownouts and blackouts."
PSE&G Overview

PSE&G's "Discussion Materials For The Dec. 9, 2009 New York Investor Meetings" (Form 8-K) includes:
Transmission Growth

  • PJM approved the $750M Susquehanna to Roseland line in October 2007.
    • Siting and permitting process underway
    • Incentives approved by FERC:
      • ROE: 12.93% (125 basis point adder)
      • 100% CWIP in Rate Base
  • FERC approval of Sub-Transmission to Transmission system reliability investments represents about $340M through 2011, post-2011 ~$60M per year.
  • Other approved RTEP projects ~$250M also contribute meaningfully to improved reliability and earnings growth.
  • PJM approved the Branchburg-Roseland-Hudson line in November 2008.  PSE&G filed with FERC for incentive ROE adder of 150 bps in this $1.1B project; estimated in-service date of June 2013.
These opportunities will require substantial deployment of capital with siting and permitting as the major challenges.
See Terms and acronyms below.
See statewide transmission map.

In April 2008 the FERC- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved their request to increase their ROE (Return on Equity) from 11.7% to 12.9% because of risks and challenges faced by the Susquehanna Line. They contend that the Susquehanna Line will cost nearly $1 billion, which will lead to a reduction in cash flow and, therefore, increase the cost of capital.
This will allow them to request a rate increase for electricity to meet this rate of return.

The Facts:
The New Jersey population growth rate is 0.4% per year; we would expect energy conservation to reduce usage by more than this amount, so that total electrical usage would actually decline.

Current estimates are that conservation in the home could reduce energy usage 23% by 2020.

For example an energy conservation program at Warren Township, Somerset Co. schools in 2009-2010 saved from 14 to 20% in energy usage per school.

In their presentation to the EEI International Utility Conference in March 2010, PSE&G said their Historical Annual Load Growth (2005-2009) was 0.6%.

See The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data (www.eia.gov/electricity/state/newjersey/pdf/new_jersey.pdf)

They have concentrated on the capacity issue, but in previous hearings on other issues they have brought up the disaster recovery issue, saying their main feed is currently a 500 kV line coming from the Salem nuclear plant and Delaware in the south. They have said they need a backup from the north in case that line goes out.
However there are a 500 kV lines coming from PA NW of Millford and from New York.

There are standard techniques for doing risk analysis and cost/benefit analysis for these scenarios; I haven't seen any evidence that they have been applied here. They certainly have a disaster plan for an outage in the feed from the south now, if not all the BPU commissioners should be fired. That could be used to compute the cost without the new line.

Opposition says:
It will be an eyesore in the middle of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The construction will also produce a significant amount of environmental damage.

Some think the motivation is to allow PSE&G to sell the clean power it produces in New Jersey to New York City at a rate 50% higher than it could charge in New Jersey and replace it with cheap coal plant energy from PA.

The acid rain created from coal plant emissions would blow over New Jersey and produce even more environmental damage. The Susquehanna-Roseland power line will start at the Susquehanna nuclear plant in Berwick. But because of its close proximity to the coal-fired Washingtonville Plant, it is likely that this line would also carry coal-generated electricity. In addition to plans to expand its nuclear energy production at Susquehanna by building a 3rd reactor, Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) is proposing additional coal-fired generation at the Washingtonville site The increased reliance on coal energy undermines our efforts to address Global warming, and will increase the air pollution coal plants spew in Pennsylvania and that drift to New Jersey.

Expandable map at pseg.com
Susquehanna-Roseland Power Lines : Information Site

Alternatives:
What would it cost to develop a smart grid, so critical services could be maintained in case of an outage to minimize the cost?

Underground transmission lines are more expensive to design, install and maintain. According to "Evaluation of Underground Electric Transmission Lines in Virginia" a Except when there are very expensive right-of-way costs associated with an overhead line, an underground line is likely to be about four to ten times more expensive than an overhead line because of things like trenching costs, insulation and heat dissipation costs. However, transmission costs are generally only about four to ten percent of electric system costs, so the total effect on the bottom line is not that great.

Stakeholders:
Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G)
PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection) is a regional transmission organization (RTO) serving 13 states from North Carolina to Illinois to New Jersey. They were formed in 1927 by Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), Philadelphia Electric Company, and Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) Company to dispatch electric generating plants on a lowest cost basis, thereby reducing the electric costs for all members of the pool.
Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL)
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (www.bpu.state.nj.us/bpu/divisions/energy/)
  Nj BPU Approves PSE&G Proposal For Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line, Feb 11, 2010
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Sierra Club
Stop The Lines!! www.StopTheLines.com
Highlands Council
Local and State Governments

Related Informtion:
the 2005 Energy Policy Act and the federally created National Interest Electric Transmission (NIET) Corridors not only make it easy for power companies to get huge transmission lines approved, but also allows them to seize privately owned land through federal eminent domain.

Links:
Reference:
PJM - Susquehanna-Roseland Proposal (www.pjm.com/planning/rtep-upgrades-status/backbone-status/susquehanna-roseland.aspx)
PSE&G - Form 8-K - Discussion Materials For The New York Investor Meetings - December 9, 2009
Subscribe to an email information list at NorthByram.org
statewide transmission map.
PATH Line Information - Piedmont Environmental Council - pecva.org

Opposed:
Stop The Lines!! www.StopTheLines.com
Routeb_info news home at NorthByram.org
Oppose the Towers
Sierra Club:
  Summary of Sierra Club positions at the Skylands Group
  Press Releases:
  Corzine's Highlands $ell Out - NJ Sierra Club Press release July, 2009
  A Dirty Deal for Dirty Power, Aug., 2009
  Local and State Groups Oppose PSE&G's Mega Power Line Expansion, Oct. 2009
  BPU Mistakes Greed for Need Powerline passes 5-0, Feb., 2010
  Alert: Tell DEP to Reject PSE&G’s Request for Permits to Expand Power Lines! | SierraActivist
New, giant power-line towers will soon dot northern New Jersey - Article at StillwaterNJ.com
Pull the Plug on Coal by Wire! at the Maryland Sierra Club

Pro:
PSE&G Links
Susquehanna-Roseland Power Lines : Information Site at PPL Electric (Pennsylvania Power & Light Company)

Articles:
March 28, 2010 Star Ledger article
May 4, 2010 Courier News editorial on Branchburg substation upgrade
May 4, 2010 Courier News response - Branchburg project will keep electricity flowing


Notes - Terms:

Webmaster: Don McBride dtmcbride@alumni.haas.org

Last updared 2 May, 2010