Pre-construction work has begun on the , a 500,000-volt transmission line going through Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey, including Jefferson Township.
The line has been deemed necessary by PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of electricity through 13 states and the District of Columbia. However, others, including private citizens and environmental groups, oppose the line’s installation, and are still working toward halting its construction.
New Jersey’s Sierra Club is looking into whether PSE&G, the company building the line in New Jersey, has all of its federal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits in place before line construction is set to begin on or about Oct. 1.
“We know that PSE&G is doing preliminary work on the sites, including in Jefferson,” said Jeff Tittel, the New Jersey Sierra Club’s director. “We’ve contacted the DEP to ask about what was being done to be sure that they aren’t working in any protected area. We asked for a site inspection at the beginning of August, and so far we don’t know if that has occurred yet or what the results were.”
The DEP said PSE&G was able to produce an approved wetland delineation document, which means that they are not working in any protected area. All the work being done to date, including both Weldon Road and Winona Trail, is in non-protected areas.
“A land-use permit from the DEP is not required for these activities,” DEP spokesman Bob Considine said.
from PSE&G after construction begins, according to an agreement signed between the township and the electric entity, which Mayor Russell Felter called a “necessary evil.”
“We were one of the last towns to accept the money, and we turned it down at first,” Felter said. “But it became clear that it was going to happen whether we wanted it or not.
“I’m not thrilled about the height of the line, but let’s face it, we all need power to run our lives,” he added.
Tittel disagreed with that assessment.
“Conservation is working,” he said. “We have other methods of getting power, like offshore wind power and gas power. We don’t need a line bringing dirty coal power into New Jersey. PSE&G is rushing this line through because they are afraid the project will get canceled. PJM canceled two other major power line projects because they were no longer needed. This one isn’t needed, either.”
One Jefferson resident, April Leaver, also opposed the project.
“I believe these lines will decrease property values,” Leaver said. “They are monstrosities. They’re going to completely ruin the landscape of the community. I also wonder about the health issues involved with such high voltage lines near residents.
“And really, what benefit do they have to us, the homeowners?” she continued. “The town got $360,000, but that won’t help the homeowners at all. It’s beyond me how the town allowed this to go through.”