At first glance, Swamp Pink, a member of the lily family, the Golden-winged Warbler, a small migratory bird, and the Frosted Elfin, a butterfly native to North America, couldn’t be less alike. Yet despite their obvious differences, they all have something in common; all three are threatened or endangered species in New Jersey with habitats on and around the nearly 1,000 miles of transmission rights-of-way (ROWs) that PSE&G owns and maintains in New Jersey. They have lots of company, too, as some 131 other threatened or endangered species make their homes on or near our ROWs.
The presence of these plants, animals and insects requires us to balance the responsibility we have to upgrade and maintain our transmission facilities with our obligation to ensure we do no harm to those that call our ROWs home. It’s an obligation we take very seriously, and my team and I – working in concert with our teammates across PSE&G – employ a variety of strategies and tactics to meet it.
We start by having experts in environmental science and land use on our team to assess the potential impacts of any work we are planning, whether it is expanding a switching station, constructing a new transmission line, or trimming trees. This equips us to work safely, while protecting the environment. For example, when we were faced with the need to upgrade transmission facilities that traversed the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, we used helicopters for crew transport and tower installation, limiting trucks, cranes and other equipment from traveling along these environmentally sensitive areas. After our work was completed, we restored the ROW to its former state, re-grading the ground, spreading new topsoil and planting native seed mixes.
Our in-house experts also work very closely with environmental regulators and advocacy organizations that share our interest in preserving and protecting the state’s environment, including our endangered species.
At the direction of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, we recently surveyed 4,200 acres on and adjacent to our ROWs to determine if Swamp Pink was present so we could be sure that it would be safe for us to operate in these areas.
Working with New Jersey Audubon Society and NJ Fish and Game, we modified our maintenance activities for over 20 miles on our northern ROWs that are among the last Golden-winged Warbler nesting areas in New Jersey, helping preserve these important habitats.
And to help the Frosted Elfin and other important pollinators, we have planted nectar sources and host plants on our restoration projects.
These are just a few of the ways in which we are working to make our ROWs hospitable to threatened and endangered species. Because while we know our customers want safe and reliable electricity, we also know they want a healthy environment. At PSE&G, we’re working hard to make sure we can all have both.
Rob Pollock, Senior Director, Environmental Projects Licensing and Permitting – PSE&G