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New PSE&G line crosses into Parsippany

180-foot tower erected off Route 46

By: William Westhoven |

Construction on PSE&G’s billion-dollar Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line project last week arrived at perhaps the most visible location along its route — the Route 46 retail corridor in Parsippany.

As the familiar former line with its bipolar towers are removed, PSE&G is replacing them with taller monopoles, which average 180 feet in height. Construction of the towers is generally done at night, PSE&G manager of transmission outreach George Sous said, in part to minimize the danger of rubbernecking by startled drivers. But the new tower in Parsippany, just off Route 46 West at the Arlington Plaza, is striking new addition to the busy highway corridor.

“The old lines were 80-plus years old and have outlived their useful lives,” Sous said. “It’s funny but they’ve been there so long that people took them for granted and they went unnoticed, but they were there for a long time.”

Heading south out of Montville and Kinnelon, the line is now progressing through the Troy Meadow area on its way to East Hanover and its ultimate destination, the PSE&G substation just over the Essex County border in Roseland.

“It is a linear project, but the poles don’t necessarily go up in order,” Sous said.

Sous said that the Parsippany tower was erected with a crane, while as many as seven or eight others, including the wetlands in Troy Meadows, will be placed by helicopter after the foundations are poured and set.

Major construction on line, which has drawn opposition from resident and environmental groups since first being proposed in 2007, began in 2012 and arrived in Morris County in March. PSE&G is building the New Jersey portion of the line, including areas such as Morris County that are largely served by JCP&L. PPL Electric Utilities in Allentown, Pa., is building the Pennsylvania portion.

The Susquehanna-Roseland Electric Reliability Project originates in the Berwick area of Pennsylvania. PSE&G is building the New Jersey portion of the line, while PPL Electric Utilities, based in Allentown, Pa., will build the Pennsylvania portion, which begins in the Berwick area of that state and crosses the Delaware Water Gap into New Jersey in Hardwick.

From there, it travels 45 miles through 16 New Jersey municipalities including Stillwater, Fredon, Newton, Andover, Byram, Hopatcong, Jefferson, Rockaway, Kinnelon and Boonton Township. In addition to the north and west construction points, a tower and foundations for other towers were constructed on the far east end, in the Florham Park-Madison area, in March.

Sous said the project is on schedule and, pending completion and approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, it will go into service in June of 2015. The old line was “de-energized” on Sept. 30. Until then, circuits supplying electricity to the area will be fed from alternate locations on the Northeast grid.

Opponents claimed the line was unnecessary, could pose health risks and could even negatively affect property values due to the size of the towers, which average twice the height of the old towers, while the new 500,000-volt transmission line more than doubles the capacity of the old lines.

PSE&G argued that there are hundreds of miles of existing 500,000-volt lines in the state and the new line would meet a growing demand for electricity and improve reliability of service.

Gov. Chris Christie, questioned about the line during a town meeting in Montville in February, said he supported the line.

“It was a tough decision, but when (Hurricane) Irene happened, when Sandy happened, the biggest complaint from everybody was ‘When are they going to turn my power back on?’ ” Christie said. “You’ve got to make the infrastructure that delivers the power stronger, bigger, harder, to sustain the type of storms we now seem to be getting on a regular basis.”