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Power Line Still Turns Off Residents, Green Groups

As October installation nears, opposition remains strong.

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.”

Bruce September 10, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Sorry to read about our illustrious mayor's defeatist attitude. We elected him (and town council members who voted to take the money) to stand up for our township, and not to belly-up in the face of a challenge! Remember that come next election, folks! That $360,000 will seem like peanuts when the power company's big machines start tearing through our township, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. I suppose our taxes will be increased to help pay for the damage, but what else is new? VERY, VERY DISAPPOINTING!
Michelle September 10, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Disappointed that this is moving forward!
Paul in NJ September 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I live about a mile from where this project is gonna tear up the roads, so I'm not thrilled either. But, seriously: Wake up and smell the coffee, folks. Blaming the mayor and council is pointless, since the towns don't have a lot of say in the matter. Pretending that the region's ever-growing population won't need more power capacity is crazy shortsighted, too. The dumbest aspect is the Sierra Club's insistence that conservation, plus wind and solar power, can replace coal. Facts are facts: covering every square mile of the township with solar panels and windmills wouldn't produce a fraction of what coal produces. And if you want to import power from offshore windmills, you'd need - guess what? - power lines. We have little choice except to grin and bear it.
Beachbum September 15, 2012 at 06:29 AM
I don't agree Paul. Firstly, energy demans have actually gone down, not up. Likely due to alternative resources. Secondly, these power lines will not benefit Jefferson in any way. The energy is slated for NYC. So if you think you're power won't go out in a storm any more, you're wrong. Thirdly, underground power lines are also a viable option. They won't do it. Lastly, Jefferson says the took the cash because it was federally approved. If you buy that argument, then that money should go directly back to the homeowners whose homes will be devalued. Have you seen the size of these towers? Go to Stopthelines.com and look at their brochure. There is a lovely diagram. People have more power than they think. It is because more people have not stood up against this, here and in other states, that this is going forward.
Bruce September 16, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Paul, while you're entitled to your opinion with which I strongly disagree, the fact remains that power usage is down and predicted to continue declining. The mayor and town council presumably could have / would have had a lot more impact on the end result which we are now facing, had they been willing to stand up to the utility sooner. I went to several town council meetings early on and clearly our elected officials seemed unaware almost to the point of incompetence that this was an issue that would have a tremendously negative impact our entire township, nor did they see any need in joining the fight as several other townships had already done. These lines will (unnecessarily!) beef up an already more-than-adequate grid so excess power can be sold across the river and elsewhere. And, it creates jobs that the Obama administration desperately needs, especially during this election year. So, no, I won't "wake up and smell the coffee" and bend over for utilities or any big business and resign myself to an attitude that it will happen anyway... it's a poor example and a poor legacy to leave for future generations! Shame on the mayor and the council for not doing anything sooner, and shame on them for accepting the $360k. They should have refused any amount of money on principle alone!

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