Feds to fast track power line
ALLENTOWN - In naming the Susquehanna-Roseland power line to the initial list of projects for a new federal Rapid Response Team, the Obama administration recognizes the importance of the new power line and the need for swift action on federal permits, PPL Electric Utilities officials said Wednesday.
"We applaud the administration's efforts to ensure that high-priority electric infrastructure projects are built and placed in service in a timely manner," said David DeCampli, president of PPL Electric Utilities. "This project will improve electric service reliability for millions of people. As an added benefit, its construction will create thousands of needed jobs in this region."
The Rapid Response Team for Transmission is expected to accelerate review and permitting of transmission line projects to increase reliability and save consumers money by modernizing the grid.
The Susquehanna-Roseland power line will strengthen the regional power system by helping prevent overloads of other transmission lines.
The line, which will connect a substation near Berwick, Pa., with one in Roseland, N.J., already has been approved by both the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. It is being developed by PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Electric and Gas Co.
Currently, the project is under review by the National Park Service, which is performing an environmental impact statement. The NPS review is needed because the route chosen by the utilities crosses a total of 4 miles of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
The route through these park service areas makes the most sense, DeCampli said, because there already is an existing power line on that route – a line that was in service long before the parks were created. The utilities own right of way that allows reconstruction of the existing line through the park service lands.
The existing line through the NPS areas is more than 80 years old and needs replacement, providing an ideal opportunity to use the route in a way that minimizes impact on people and the environment. In fact, DeCampli said, the route chosen by the two utilities uses an existing power line path for 95 percent of its 145-mile total distance from Berwick to Roseland.
An estimated 2,000 jobs will be created by the multiyear construction of the Susquehanna-Roseland line, according to university studies. The project represents a $1.2 billion investment in reliability and in local economies.
"We look forward to working cooperatively with the Rapid Response Team – as we have been with the National Park Service – to ensure a thorough and comprehensive review in a timely manner," DeCampli said, "and to help ensure that a decision on federal permits is made in a timely way."
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