ALLENTOWN – Two utilities say their chosen route for the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project is the best alternative for the power line needed by millions of electric customers in the region, the companies building the project told the National Park Service in formal comments filed Tuesday (1/31).
Public Service Electric and Gas Co. and PPL Electric Utilities Corp. also provided more details on their proposal to mitigate for unavoidable impacts of the project by preserving thousands of acres of land to enhance public enjoyment of natural resources in the area.
Below is a summary of key points in the utilities' comments:
- Other NPS alternatives would have more impact: Other alternative routes proposed by the National Park Service would require the companies to cut new corridors through forests and communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This would require significantly more forest clearing. The companies' route – already approved by regulators in both states – uses a corridor that already exists.
- Utilities' route follows existing power line corridor through NPS areas: There already is a transmission line through the three areas of the National Park Service. The line was there decades before the park units were created. Using the pre-existing, cleared corridor for the Susquehanna-Roseland project makes the most sense to limit overall regional impact.
- "No-action" alternative does not prevent impacts: If the National Park Service chooses the "no action" alternative, the utilities still will need to rebuild the 85-year-old transmission line that now crosses the three NPS units. This reconstruction project will have the same construction impacts as the utilities' chosen alternative, and will replace the current lattice-style towers with steel poles between 130 feet and 160 feet high, as required by today's design standards. In addition, "no action" could lead to reliability problems in the Northeast power grid.
- Utilities already have property rights through NPS lands: The companies have an existing property easement through the three National Park Service units that provides the legal right to rebuild the existing power line. The line must be rebuilt because it is nearing the end of its useful life.
Susquehanna-Roseland project does not require significant widening of existing right of way: The current utility corridor through the three National Park Service units is four miles long with widths of up to 200 feet. The only additional right of way and clearing needed by the utilities to build the Susquehanna-Roseland line is 50 feet of additional right of way for 0.7 miles where the corridor is now 100 feet wide. The draft environmental impact statement incorrectly states that the existing cleared corridor would have to be much wider.