NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Susquehanna- Roseland power line, a major grid upgrade that will improve electric service for millions of people in the Northeast, received final approval from the National Park Service when the agency issued a Record of Decision late Monday (10/1) affirming the utility-chosen route.
In addition to boosting electric service reliability, the new line will create jobs, reduce electric bills for some customers and provide a significant economic stimulus to the region. The project was one of seven priority grid upgrades nationwide named to the federal Rapid Response Team for Transmission.
The companies building the project, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. in New Jersey and PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania, have started construction activities along some areas of the 145-mile route. The line is expected to be in service before the summer peak electricity demand period of 2015.
"This new line will reinforce our nation's critical energy infrastructure for future generations," said Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G, and Gregory N. Dudkin, president of PPL Electric Utilities, in a joint statement. "It will ensure that homes and businesses in a multistate region continue to enjoy safe and reliable electric service long into the future."The new, 500-kilovolt 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 overloads on other existing power lines. PJM recently reconfirmed the need for the line to correct grid reliability concerns. It is estimated that the project will save consumers more than $200 million per year by relieving congestion that currently exists on the power grid. The utilities' chosen route has already been approved by both the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. About 95 percent of the route will follow the path of an existing 85-year-old power line that must be replaced because it is approaching the end of its useful life and is undersized for today's electricity demands. Following an existing power line route significantly reduces the project's overall impact on people and the environment. The route crosses about four miles of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on the path of an existing power line. The utilities already have an existing property easement through the park service units, and the existing line had been in place for decades before the park units were established.