By: Kurt Bresswein |
The long-anticipated Susquehanna-Roseland power line was fully energized this week for the first time.
The 150-mile-long, 500-kilovolt line links PPL Electric Utilities’s switchyard at its Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Salem Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.’s switching station in Roseland, Essex County, New Jersey.
It cost $1.4 billion and is designed to bolster electricity reliability for the power grid run by Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection that serves 61 million people in all or parts of 13 states plus the District of Columbia.
“It’s all about reliability,” PPL Electric Utilities spokesman Paul Wirth said. “It prevents overloads on other power lines and gives electricity another path to travel, especially during period periods when it’s extremely hot or extremely cold.
“That’s when demand for electricity is highest, and this line was needed to make sure the entire grid can be reliable during those peak periods.”
It’s all about reliability.”
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of Allentown-based PPL Corp., energized the line Monday. PSEG had completed its portion last year, and in April 2014 began flowing electricity through the new line between a newly built switching station in Hopatcong, Sussex County, and Roseland, according to company spokeswoman Karen Johnson.
PPL Electric says it built 101 miles of the Susquehanna-Roseland line and PSEG constructed 45 miles. The utilities partnered on a 4-mile-long section of National Park Service lands bookending the Delaware River.
PPL put its investment at $630 million and PSEG, at $775 million. PPL says remaining work involves restoration of construction areas, expected to continue for several months. The cost will be borne across PJM’s power grid, as it’s a regional reliability project, and not just by PPL Electric Utilities and PSEG customers, Johnson said.
Completion of the project comes as PPL Corp. prepares to spin off its competitive electricity generation business around June 1 into a new company, Talen Energy Corp., through a partnership with RJS Power Holdings, a subsidiary of Riverstone Holdings LLC.
All but 10 percent of PPL Electric’s portion of the line was built along existing power line rights-of-way, and all of PSEG’s segment followed existing, lower-voltage lines, the companies said.
Of Lehigh, Northampton and Warren counties, only Hardwick Township in Warren County saw construction of the new line.
Utility regulators in both states approved the project in 2010, followed by the National Park Service in 2012. The companies provided $66 million in compensation to the park service, including adding 288 acres to the 67,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Environmentalists fought hard against the project, decrying its passage through the federal park lands on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border and its focus on traditional power sources rather than renewables.
Susquehanna-Roseland was one of seven projects nationwide fast-tracked by the Obama administration’s Rapid Response Team for Transmission, streamlining and coordinating government action on the required federal permits, according to PPL.