The need to upgrade the nation’s aging grid infrastructure has become more apparent. Fortunately, utilities and public officials are up to the task.
In the Northeast, one big project cleared a major hurdle, bringing it a step closer to delivering more power efficiently and at lower cost to customers.
The Susquehanna-Roseland power line project snipped through some of the proverbial red tape in October when the National Park Service issued a Record of Decision affirming the project’s route. The action represented the service’s final approval of the route.
PPL Electric in Pennsylvania and Public Service Electric and Gas Co. in New Jersey are building the grid upgrade jointly. The 500-kilovolt line will run 145 miles 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 lines.
Most of the line will follow the path of an existing 85-year old power line that must be replaced because it is nearing the end of its useful life and does not provide adequate capacity for today’s increasing electricity demands.
The project will boost electric service reliability, provide an economic stimulus in the form of jobs for the region, and reduce bottleneck costs for customers in the utilities’ service areas. PPL estimates the project could save consumers more than $200 million per year by relieving congestion on the grid.
The line required National Park Service approval because it will run through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
The Obama administration selected the line a year ago for fast-track treatment by the administration’s Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which was formed to streamline the review and permitting of transmission line projects.
Several more local, state and federal permits are still pending. However, some construction has commenced, and the completed line is expected to be in service before 2015’s peak summer season.