On Aug. 14, 2003, in a rural area of northern Ohio, a high-voltage transmission line sagging in the summer heat brushed against a tree limb and shut down. Over the next several hours, three other lines in the area, now under increased load, also sagged into overgrown trees and switched off. Continue reading
Visitors who walk into my office in South Plainfield will see some pretty unusual artwork. The giant photos feature soaring vistas of tree-lined hills taken in various places in our great state. But my wall art also displays rows of towers, poles and wires that form the backbone of our electrical transmission system.
Energizing the Susquehanna-Roseland (S-R) transmission line on May 11 was a great moment for PSE&G, for PPL Electric Utilities, which built the portion of the line in Pennsylvania – and for the state of New Jersey. As someone who was with the S-R project since its inception, I couldn’t be more pleased that this important electrical highway is now complete.
PJM, the regional transmission operator that operates the electric grid in New Jersey and other nearby states, first mandated the S-R project in 2007 to address reliability issues that would begin affecting the grid in 2012. While PJM has been able to implement short-term fixes over the last three years, S-R was essential to ensure the long-term stability of the grid. The project consisted of constructing a new 500-kilovolt line to augment an existing 80-year old line operating at 230-kilovolt – from the Susquehanna station in Berwick, Pa., to PSE&G’s Roseland switching station. This required PPL and PSE&G to rebuild the towers to carry both lines. PSE&G built the 45-mile section of the line in New Jersey, while PPL built the 101-mile Pennsylvania portion.
S-R presented a number of complex engineering and construction challenges, none greater than the need to build the line across environmentally sensitive areas, including wetlands and a four-mile stretch through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. PSE&G took a number of steps to minimize our impact on these areas and their native plants and wildlife. For example, where we could we used helicopters for crew transport and tower installation, eliminating trucks, cranes and other project equipment from traveling along these environmentally sensitive areas. (When the line was first constructed in the 1920s, PSE&G crews hauled metal for the towers using mules and wooden trailers over the rough and rocky terrain.)