MTC Special Meeting PSE&G Minutes 07-15-08 Print E-mail

 

Montville Township Committee Special Meeting

Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Montville Township Municipal Building, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, New Jersey

 

7:00 p.m. – Statement of Open Public Meetings Act Compliance read by Chairwoman Deborah Nielson:  “As required by the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate Notice of this meeting has been provided which Notice specified the time and place of the meeting to the extent known at that time. The Notice was posted on the bulletin board at the Municipal Building, mailed to The Daily Record, The Star Ledger, and The Citizen as well as other newspapers and it was placed on file in the Township Clerk’s office. This meeting has been properly noticed to the public in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”

 

Present:          Committeeman Art Daughtry

Committeeman James Sandham, Jr.

                        Committeewoman Jean Bader

                        Committeeman Tim Braden

                        Chairwoman Deborah Nielson

 

Also present:   Frank Bastone, Township Administrator

Gertrude Atkinson, Township Clerk

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Chairwoman Nielson.

 

SPECIAL MEETING REGARDING PSE&G PROPOSED NEW TRANSMISSION LINE:

 

Chairwoman Nielson stated the Township Committee was made aware of a proposal by PSE&G for three potential routes for new power lines.  Two of these routes are in Montville Township. 

 

Nielson referred to map hanging on the back wall with green line that shows where the lines would go.  Total New Jersey routes are 40 to 50 miles.  Seven miles would go through Montville Township.

 

On June 24, 2008, there was a workshop with PSE&G at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.  We asked PSE&G to come to our town for an information session and public hearing.  They have so graciously agreed.  This is the planning process.  No final decision has been made by PSE&G.  We encourage your input.

 

The format of the meeting will be a presentation by PSE&G representatives and then questions from the Township Committee.  If we have not answered all of your questions, then they will take questions from the public.

 

George Sous, Regional Public Affairs Manager, PSE&G:  On the back table are comment forms.  We will pick them up at the end of the evening and get back to you.

 

Power Point presentation by John Ribardo, PSE& G, Project Manager:

 

DOE/PJM Requirements:

 

-          Secretary of Energy has recognized that the corridor is experiencing electric energy constraints or congestion that adversely affects consumers.

-          PJM has determined that there are significant reliability issues which will affect the electric customers of New Jersey due to generator retirements and load growth.

-          PJM has recommended significant transmission system upgrades to ensure reliable electric service in the region.

-          PJM has considered these upgrade recommendations and orders PSE&G to install many of them.  Under PJM rules, PSE&G is thus legally obligated to construct those projects, which PJM has authorized.

 

Susquehanna – Roseland Project:

 

-          PJM has identified 23 lines that will be overloaded beginning as early as 2013 in eastern PA and NJ.

-          New 500kv line from Susquehanna to Roseland will resolve these overloads.

-          PSE&G and PPL have accepted responsibility for construction of the line.

 

Displayed map of overloaded circuits.

 

Key Route Selection Criteria:

 

-          Strictly minimize the removal of existing residences.

-          Minimize the impacts to the natural and human environment.

-          Maximize the use of or paralleling of existing rights-of-way.

-          Minimize route length, circuitry, and cost.

-          Maximize separation distances from residences, schools, cemeteries, historical resources, recreation areas, and other important cultural sites.

 

Displayed Alternatives Route Map.

 

Summary Comparison of Alternatives Table:  Montville routes are A & B. 

 

Transmission Line Design Factors:

 

-          Desired (typical) ROW width for a single circuit 500kv line is 200 feet.

-          Existing 230kv circuit is in a horizontal configuration.  To fit a second circuit, wires are arranged vertically.  A second 500kv circuit is added parallel to existing.

-          We can customize a 230kv/500kv double circuit structure within a 150 ft wide ROW.  This results in taller towers.

 

Displayed diagram of 230kv/500kv Monopole Structure.  Total height 180 feet.

 

Displayed diagram of 230kv/500kv Lattice Structure.  This is an alternative design.

 

Displayed diagram of 230kv/500kv Portal Structure.  This is another alternative design.

 

Monopole structures are in large pieces.  Lattice structures are in smaller pieces.  Portal structures are in between.

 

Public Input Process:

 

-          Press release on June 5, 2008.

-          Public workshops Sussex County 6/23; Warren County 6/24; Morris County 6/25.

-          Preferred route to be indentified late July, early August 2008.  Property owners along selected route will be notified in writing.

-          Permit applications will be made in August – December timeframe.

-          Info will be updated periodically on website reliabilityproject.pseg.com.

 

We were before the Highlands Council and the NJDEP.  July 31 remains the date for selecting a route.  Plan to get NJDEP permits in October.  Construction to begin in October 2009.  June 1, 2012 – required to be ready.

 

Questions from the Township Committee:

 

Chairwoman Nielson:  Substation in northern NJ?  Ribardo:  No additional substations in Montville.  All three routes cross the Branchburg transmission line and will have to connect to that.  On routes A and B, that is in Jefferson.  The only switching stations are Jefferson and the end in Roseland.

 

Nielson:  Do you need additional ROW’s?  Ribardo:  Too early to tell.  Could need additional temporary construction ROW’s.   

 

Nielson:  Diameter of monopole?  Ribardo:  8 to 12 feet.

 

Nielson:  Aquifer resource area – will there be blasting and drilling?  Have you prepared an Environmental Impact Statement?  Ribardo:  Have not got that far into the design, but will certainly look into that and do soil borings, etc. – depending on the design option.  We will evaluate and try to address.

 

Nielson:  Height of poles – possibility of having them lowered?  But then you would need additional ROW?  Ribardo:  Yes, but then would need additional ROW.  We are trying to keep the same number of towers.

 

Nielson:  The Open Space Committee is looking at a new trail system throughout Montville.  When you have high voltage lines, do you limit access for trails, etc?  Ribardo:  No, should not be more restricted access. 

 

Committeewoman Bader:  Received an e-mail from a resident concerned about health, cancer.  I don’t know if any studies have been done. 

 

Gregory Olson, PSE&G, Manager, Electric Magnetic Field Issues:  We have workers that work in these fields every day.  We have an interest in this also, and look very carefully at the research.  Two types of studies:  biological – animals – no plausible link between electric magnetic fields and adverse health concerns.

 

Epidemiological studies – people – environmental factors – cancer clusters – no issues with magnetic fields.  One study suggested further studies.  These studies, over the last thirty years, have eliminated major issues people have today.  They are still studying some things.

 

Bader:  The next concern in the e-mail was regarding terrorism.  It may be a future target for terroristic plots to sabotage PSE&G. 

 

Kim Hanemann, PSE&G, Director Projects & Construction:  There are various levels of security.  We do helicopter and security patrols.  We are very tied into homeland security and their security levels.  We also take reports from residents.  If something strange is going on, we investigate. 

 

Bader:  Have any of your poles ever fallen and caused damage?  Ribardo:  No, not aware of any.

 

Hanemann:  We inspect 20% of our facilities each year.

 

Bader:  How long will the construction take?  Ribardo:  At this phase, just have one window.  Don’t plan on being in Montville from 2009 to 2012. 

 

Committeeman Braden:  Will there be outages during transfer of lines?  Ribardo:  No.

 

Braden:  We all accept the fact that power transmission is a fact of life.  Have you investigated burying the power lines?  Ribardo:  We have buried 230kv lines.  There are no 500kv lines buried in this country.  It is just too difficult.  It is not practical.  250kv plus 250kv do not equal 500kv.  The carrying capability of 500kv is much greater.

 

Committeeman Sandham:  Going back to the health question.  There are a number of studies that have been done.  It seems the only link of any kind of consequence is to childhood leukemia.  Do you know of any other studies that have been happening as we speak? 

 

Olson:  The childhood leukemia link is the only thing being looked at.  Many of the studies have shown risk ratios that were less for the exposed group, in some cases, to the control group, in other cases.  Olson explained risk ratios.  Many of these studies never took actual magnetic field measurements.

 

Sandham:  It seems that the evidence does not suggest that further testing should be done.  Are you aware of any other testing being done right now?  Olson:  Not aware of anything right now.

 

Sandham:  You talk about submittal and approval from Montville Township.  What is that?  What would happen if we don’t approve it?  Ribardo:  We would submit construction details, schedules, construction impacts, and a site plan application for approval to the Board of Adjustment.  There is a height variance needed.

 

David Richter, PSE&G, Assistant General Property Counsel:  If a utility project is crossing town boundaries, PSE&G has the option to go directly to the State or go before the municipal board.  In this case, we have decided we are going to go to each municipality.

 

Nielson:  If Montville were to deny you, would you seek to put the lines elsewhere?

 

Ribardo:  Whatever the routes is, we will get the approval/permitting for those sites.  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – backstop siting authority – federal law says we can go to FERC if:  1) Municipality withheld approval for more than one year.  2) Municipality conditioned its approval in such a manner that is unreasonable.  3) Municipality denied the siting application.  We don’t want to do that.

 

Sandham:  Built to safety and environmental standards?  Richter:  Currently no EMF standards in NJ.  If they are enacted, we will meet those standards.

 

Sandham:  Is one of the benefits to the residents to potentially lower pricing?  Ribardo:  The ratepayers through the 13 states are paying for the cost of the lines – less than $5 per year.  The benefit of having less congestion lowers the retail cost.

 

Sandham:  The decision date is July 31.  Is the decision made already?  Ribardo:  No, our consultant is putting together a detailed recommendation.

 

Sandham:  What happens to the effect on property values?  With a higher tower, they will deflate.  Richter:  In 1928, the property rights were paid for.

 

Sandham:  So, there will be no additional compensation?  Richter:  No.

 

Sandham:  Vegetation cutting.  Richter:  Will not change based on the project – no affect.

 

Committee Daughtry:  230kv lines are still mounted on there.  500kv line does not affect what they do.  Are you aware Texas Eastern has a high-pressure gas line right next to some of the lines?  The BPU is supposed to be your shepherd to protect the public.  I would like to see the BPU take measurements of the lines right now.  This gives everyone a clear benchmark number of what happens in the real world.  Why don’t you document those numbers?  Get readings from those lines and get the factual information.  PSE&G and GPU are well aware of these types of scenarios.  I don’t know why the BPU doesn’t mandate those readings.

 

Nielson:  This was announced publicly on June 5.  In May, applications were submitted to the NJDEP.  Richter:  The file that was submitted to the DEP was for the maintenance that is performed annually.

 

Nielson:  It seems to me there should be some sort of compensation plan.  I would urge you to either consider the property owners that are directly affected or those whose views capes are impaired.

 

Frank Bastone, Township Administrator:  Along the three routes, have you looked at the seismology and geology?  Ribardo:  Yes.

 

Bastone:  Is one route better than the other?  Ribardo:  Not prepared to answer that.  We are aware of the Ramapo fault.  That is all built into the design of the towers. 

 

Bastone:  1928 residents were compensated.  Our concern is the impact on the assessed valuation.  This is impacting the current value of the property.  I submit that regardless of what was done in 1928, the change in towers is going to adversely impact the value of the properties.

 

Richter:  We heard the Mayor’s position, and we will certainly take that into consideration.

 

Public questions:

 

Truscha Quatrone, 4 Majorca Road, Towaco:  When you make your application to the State, FEC, etc., what percent was for future products and services?  Hanemann:  This is a reliability driven project from PJM driven by the studies to preserve reliability in these regions. 

 

Quatrone:  When they are in the construction phase, do we have the right to challenge them for the use of our land?  Richter:  Yes, we would have to pay for those rights. 

 

Tina Turi-Shelley, 12 Ward Witty Drive, Towaco:  I have clearly seen a reduction in my property values.  Construction – I am concerned that if and when the towers are built, that I can’t adequately control the construction that is being done.  When the clear-cutting was done, there were people all over my property.  How can PSE&G and the construction people assure me that something will not happen?  Fire, etc.  How can I be sure that the homeowner’s policy on my house covers any damage?  Also, part of the transmission line is along a bus route.  Bus stops could not be used because the bus could not get through. 

 

Richter:  PSE&G would be responsible for any damage to the property. 

 

Turi-Shelley:  Can I see your policy?  Richter:  $10 million self-insured.  $25 million above that.  I can provide a copy of the certificate to you.

 

Nielson:  Do you take videos of the existing conditions?  Ribardo:  We can do that.  When we come to each municipality, we will submit construction plans.  We expect our contractors to be held to following those construction plans. 

 

Hanemann:  In the construction phase, we have designated field supervision.

 

Nielson:  Do you do background checks on the workers?

 

Turi-Shelley:  How can I be sure that my house and children are going to be safe?  Nielson:  Please write your comments on the cards, and they will respond to you.

 

Gerhard Mayer, 5 High Mountain Drive, Montville:  You mentioned that you tie into Con Edison somewhere in New Jersey.  Is the reason we have to provide more power is because we are subsidizing New York’s needs?  Ribardo:  I encourage you to look at that PJM website.  The over-demands are in Northern NJ and PA, where there has been an increase in growth.  There are no plans to increase our capacity to Con Ed.

 

Nielson:  Remind everyone to write the questions on the cards provided by PSE&G, and they will personally send a response.

 

Mayer:  Concerned about the height.  Ribardo:  The only way we could keep the height is if you widened the ROW’s. 

 

Mayer:  You mentioned you could bury lines up to 340kv.  You said that is not the same as a 500kv line.  Is that a technical challenge or a cost challenge?  Ribardo:  Technical challenge.

 

Mayer:  You said underground 500kv lines were not in the United States.  What about other countries?  Ribardo:  I believe there is one in Japan, but it is not tied to the system.  It is a point source for a generator.

 

Mayer:  Cost.  We may then have a tradeoff between property values in Montville.  That is something the Township Committee may want to take a look at - quality of life going down, property values going down versus paying for a few buried lines.

 

Rachel Mandel, 68 Passaic Valley Road, Montville:  Are there other 500kv power lines?  Ribardo:  Yes, throughout the world. 

 

Mandel:  The first study was done in 1979.  That study was inconclusive.  However, there are many scientists who felt that study had value.  There have been no studies that have studied adults and cancer rates and how power lines have really affected them.  There is still an awful lot we don’t know about 500kv lines.  Maybe we shouldn’t be your guinea pigs to figure out if these power lines are going to cause a risk.

 

Olson:  We have extensive networks of 500kv lines in NJ.  There are many homes being built today adjacent to these lines. 

 

Nielson:  I had asked previously, where can we go to see 200-foot poles to see the visual impact in a residential district?  I will wait for a response to that.

 

Mandel:  There are two other major expansions going on in NJ.  Part of the reason they are going town-by-town is so they can divide us.  Is there any other logical reason you are going town-by-town? 

 

Nielson:  We scheduled this meeting.  They had workshops in three counties.

 

Mandel:  The power line – what is it going to connect to in PA?  Ribardo:  It is connecting to the Burwood Switching Station. 

 

Mandel:  Is that switching station attached to a nuclear power plant?  Ribardo:  Yes. 

 

Mandel:  So we are paying for the power to that nuclear power?  It should be a State committee evaluating/making the decision on the route, not a paid consultant.  I would like to encourage everyone here not to divide and conquer.  I don’t know why we are not encouraging green energy power sources – solar power, wind power.

 

Ribardo:  PJM has met wit the DEP and the BPU, and they have discussed this project. 

 

Allen Pressman, 2 Wade Court, Montville, President, Chase Condos:  Impact it will have specifically on properties?  The ROW goes right through our community.  Ribardo:  When we do a construction project, we try to leave it in the same situation it was in.

 

Nielson:  The vegetation management program has not been in the Chase Condos yet.  There is still public comment period going on for the vegetation management program.

 

Daughtry:  Vegetation management did pay Chase a visit last year.  They do extend some latitude.  Our police station was spared somewhat also.

 

Bastone:  They only did 11 of the 33 spans in Montville. 

 

Peter Kerns, 150 Waughaw Road, Towaco:  EMF studies – the most recent study was in Japan and it confirmed higher levels of childhood leukemia.  There are other governments and States that have standards.  In Sweden, they go a lot further.  I am not sure what you are saying is all that accurate.  I have invested $18,000 in an EMF cancellation field.  I hope you are doing that to start – that there is going to be cancellation.  Also, we really need to know what the readings are going to be.  It should be your obligation to get that to us.  The vegetation - I hope the Township Committee takes that back to the State.  At least let us put some trees up.

 

Olson:  EMF questions.  He is correct, there are many studies out there.  We do not influence any of the studies ourselves.  We rely on independent researchers throughout the world.

 

Nielson:  If you could provide those studies to the Township Committee.

 

David Gorman, 1 Willard Lane, Towaco:  Senior Electrical Engineer for Con Edison:  Thirty years experience.  You mentioned that the only option you have is 500kv power lines.  Could you consider the DC link instead of the AC?  The towers would be not 200, but 100 feet.

 

Ribardo:  The problem with DC underground or overhead is where to put the converter stations.  We would have to acquire additional property.

 

Gorman:  In Roseland, you are going to bring 500kv power lines.  Is it GIS? I think you haven’t done your homework fully.  Gorman:  I understand you are going to follow article 7 if the project is not approved here.  Are you going to submit all the drawings?  Ribardo:  Whatever Montville Township requires in drawings we will provide. 

 

Sandham:  The responses you get in the cards – we would like to have those responses also.  I would like to get them up on the website.

 

Marion Kelly Gingery, 23 Helton Terrace, Montville:  We are in the direct route of three airports.  If, God forbid, a plane crashed, hurricane, etc., would it take down the line to the ground and impact that gas line?

 

Hanemann:  One of the things set up with the transmission system is the relay protection on it.   A lot of regulations have been enacted.

 

Gingery:  So you are saying it will not impact the gas line?  Hanemann:  No. 

 

John Beck, East Hanover:  My property does abut to the ROW.  You did a poor job on informing the public.  Your partner company, GPU, has a lot more information on their website, and they have mailed out to the residents within 1,000 feet.  You did not mail anything out.  When I bought my house ten years ago, I knew the 250kv line was there.  Now you are talking about changing it and tripling the voltage and building taller towers.  I am trying to understand.

 

Ribardo:  One of the options we are looking at – putting an arm off on one side and taking the center phase off to the side allowing an area in the middle.  A monopole structure.  That is one potential possibility. 

 

Beck:  Are you going to relocate the poles in different locations along the route?  Ribardo:  Towers in the same straight line, we would build next to in the same centerline.  Towers would not go on either side of the existing towers, it would be centerline as is.

 

Beck:  Please improve you communication.  Ribardo:  We considered sending out the letters that they did.  We have a much denser population area.

 

Jose Puignau, 5 Vanderhoof Road, Montville:  Three options  – what is the cost of each?  Is that going to impact the decision?  Ribardo: Cost is a factor in the route selection, but not a significant factor.  Susquehanna – Roseland – a billion dollars approximate cost.  We do not have detailed breakdowns for each route.

 

Nielson:  Cost based on prior projects?  Ribardo:  Yes, and includes ROW acquisitions. 

Puignau:  Towers available – what is going to be the decision-making process on the type of tower?  Is it topography, what’s most effective, what offends the people the least?  Ribardo:  All of them.  From a construction standpoint, it is easiest to construct a lattice tower.  Put your opinion on the cards.  Some people like the lattice.  Some like the monopoles.  I would consider a working meeting with the Township to discuss their preference on the towers.  We would try and be consistent within a stretch of the power line.

 

Anthony Angiolini, 38 Virginia Road, Montville:  Used to live by the Lincoln Park Airport.  Lake Valhalla area – some of the ridgelines are above 200 feet.  Have you taken into consideration the approaches to the local airports?  Ribardo:  We are required to do that as part of the design process.

 

Angiolini:  I spent a number of years on the Lincoln Park Planning Board.  We had cell tower applications.  They had to do studies on the distances/fields.  In your study, can you show in your baseline 10 feet, 20 feet, what the fields are?

 

Daughtry:  This is something the State should be requiring.  The BPU has an obligation to provide the factual information to the community.  I am going to ask the Mayor to send a letter to the BPU asking for the facts on the measurements as they are today.

 

Angiolini:  There is a company called American Superconducting.  They have a third generation wire.  It is about half the size of the wire that is called for today for high voltage transmissions.  I am not sure if you looked at this type of wire.  Ribardo:  We have looked at some new generations of wire.  We will look into that.

 

Maritza Byrne, 63 Two Bridges Road, Towaco:  This is not the first expansion project you have run?  Ribardo:  It is the first major 500kv expansion project since the 80’s.

 

Byrne:  Have you completed any in the last ten years?  Hanemann:  We have had a number of smaller projects over the past few years.  It is now to the point where a large backbone project is needed.

 

Byrne:  Where was the project in the 80’s?  Hanemann:  South Jersey.  It was a very large ROW and new ROW had to be acquired.

 

Bryne:  The small project you did, was any compensation made to the residents?  Richter:  Not unless additional ROW was needed. 

 

Byrne:  We have been told tonight there will not be additional compensation.  The Township has costs – police, etc.  I assume the Township would absorb those costs and not have to pay overtime?  Richter:  Correct.

 

Byrne:  Are there minutes of the meetings with Highlands and the DEP?  Ribardo:  They were informal meetings.  No minutes.  We came in at the request of the agencies to talk about these projects.

 

Byrne:  What were the concerns of the agencies?  Ribardo:  DEP – what are the plans, permits.  

Highlands – what the plans are, the route, the structures.  They were interested in the GIS levels.

 

Byrne:  Slide 4 – minimizing crossing natural resource sites – why do you minimize those?  Richter:  We are trying to preserve the natural resources.  We will be applying for permits to stay within their guidelines. 

 

Byrne:  We get all of our water from the aquifer.  Richter:  How deep is the aquifer?

 

Thomas Mazzaccaro, Water & Sewer Director, Montville Township:  The aquifer is 200 feet deep.  Richter:  We will not be going down 200 feet.

 

Byrne:  You need to work with us to preserve the aquifer.

 

No one further from the public.

 

Nielson:  This concludes our public portion.  How will you communicate the route selection to the property owners?  Ribardo:  The property owners along the selected route will be contacted.   We will have a press release.

 

Nielson:  You will notify the Township Administrator?  Ribardo:  Yes.

Nielson:  The BPU has adopted new regulations for vegetation information.  PSE&G has to comply with that.  They have a few slides tonight.  Will take a break and then review them.

 

Break.

 

Nielson:  When will we receive answers to the questions submitted tonight?  Sous:  Probably a couple of weeks.  We will try to get some out as soon as possible. 

 

Nielson:  Can the presentation be posted on the website?  Sous:  Yes.

 

Daughtry:  Can we put it on our website?  Sous:  Let us think about that.  Let me get back to you before the end of the presentation.

 

Nielson:  This year the Township Committee and our Administrator got calls about the tree cutting in the ROW’s.  In the last couple of years, the BPU has changed their policy with respect to vegetation management in the ROW’s.  They have reopened the public comment period.  That period ends soon – submit via website by July 21.  The link is on our website. 

 

Richter:  They will publish the proposed amendments to the regulations in the NJ Register and people will have ten months to a year to make comments.

 

Nielson:  We have sections in town that are slated to be clear-cut as well in future years.  My hope is that it is modified so these areas can be spared.

 

Richter (Power Point presentation):

 

History of Regulations:

 

-          August 2003 – tree in Ohio initiates chain of events that blacked out Northeast.

-          December 2006 – BPU enacts vegetation management regulations.

-          April 2006 – NERC enacts vegetation management standards for transmission lines exceeding 200kv.

-          September 2007 – BPU proposed amendments to regulations.

-          March 2008 – BPU enacts amendments.

-          June 4, 2008 – BPU issues clarification letter.

 

Current Regulatory Process, Integrated Vegetation Management (pursuant to June 4th letter):

 

-          Wire Zone:  No vegetation that matures above 3-feet shall grow in the wire zone.  Preferred growth in wire zone is grass.

-          Border Zone:  The utility shall use its best practices to remove incompatible species from ROW.

-          Incompatible:  Defined as species that at mature growth will exceed 20 feet in height.

-          PSE&G can allow ornamental species that do not exceed 20 feet in height at maturity in the border zone.

 

Richter:  This is the standard – 20 feet.  You gained a little more flexibility depending on the situation, topography.  It is a case-by-case basis.

 

Nielson:  I met with Mr. Sous on site with Mr. Bastone and some of the homeowners.  Can we identify sites now that have access that we can maintain the vegetation?  Appeal process?  You have to understand the impact.  Richter:  I certainly understand the impact.  You have to weigh the impact on the homeowners to the reliability of these transmission lines.

 

Ribardo:  The Administrator, George Sous, and I had a meeting yesterday.  We looked at the Chase Condos and the business condos. 

 

Bastone:  There is vegetation there now that exceeds the standards.  They are not going to impact the lines.  But since they exceed the standards, they will have to come down.

 

Nielson:  We need to attend the public hearings and have our voices heard.

 

Daughtry:  If you go to monopoles – is that a better solution for vegetation issues?  Richter:  Right now, the regulations don’t specify between tower types.

 

 

Richter:  Displayed map of when they did maintenance and what is planned for 2009.  Nielson:  Can Montville Township keep the map?  Richter:  Yes.

Sous:  We did agree to meet with the Mayor and Mr. Bastone about the work that is planned for 2009.

 

Nielson:  Will the new policy be in place by 2009?  Richter:  I hope it is done by 2009, but they did say ten months.

 

Nielson:  Opened the meeting to the public for questions to be put on the record.  I would urge all of you to submit comments prior to July 21.  I would have you urge all of your neighbors.

 

Peter Kerns, 150 Waughaw Road, Towaco:  We should not have to have no balance between the beauty of our settings and power.  The property that I purchased was dense.  You could not notice any towers or wires.  Now, they have devastated the neighborhood.  How can you go from 30 or 40 feet to 3 feet?  It is not logical as you trying to balance things.  The BPU has gone beyond what the federal guidelines are. 

 

Richter:  The law was not 30 or 40 feet before these regulations.  There was no law. 

 

Kerns:  They eliminated slow-growing trees.  Richter:  There were no vegetation regulation standards/laws before December 2006.  There were only guidelines.  September 2007 amended December 2006.  It was always three feet in the wire zone.

 

Nielson:  I think communication should have been better in 2005 and 2006.  I don’t know if you received letters talking about the proposed changes.  There were public hearings.  The folks that make the mandates are the BPU.

 

Kerns:  A cedar tree that was fine, now is not fine?  Richter:  Topping of trees kills trees.  It is a poor method for vegetation management.  That is a bigger danger than a removed tree.  We are following the BPU’s regulations.

 

Daughtry:  We need to challenge the BPU as citizens and elected officials. 

 

Kerns:  PSE&G can also take this back to the BPU.

 

Bastone:  The bottom line is what is occurring now is overkill.

 

Nielson:  The Township Committee can draft a resolution tonight and send prior to July 21.

 

Gustavo Wellman, 3 Jotham Road, Montville:  What would be your guidelines?  What do you consider would be normal and acceptable?  Richter:  2002 to 2005 – what the utility was doing throughout the State.  We were removing some trees, we were leaving some trees.  We had an integrated vegetation management program. 

 

Bastone:  Can we get a copy of that?  That is what we wanted to go back to. 

 

Sandham:  How much of this was tree removal versus an attempt of the residents to encroach on the ROW’s?

 

Richter:  The majority of it was a reliability issue.  Also, safety and security.  We have helicopter patrols that inspect the lines.

 

Wellman:  If you are removing trees, how are you restoring?  Richter:  The easement gives us the right to remove the trees.  Federal and State standards.  We are following the State standards. 

 

Wellman:  Some restoration should be done.  We don’t want to have a desert.  Nielson:  It becomes a meadow. 

 

John Young, 152 Waughaw Road, Towaco:  Some of the trees they trimmed down are not going to survive.  Who is responsible for removing the dead trees?  Richter:  We will remove them.

 

Allen Pressman, 2 Wade Court, Montville:  The concern we have in Montville Chase is the equipment when it comes in.  Richter:  We will remove the equipment every night.

 

Daughtry:  Typically in Chase, any construction equipment will go down to 86 River Road.

 

Richter:  If there is an issue, we will resolve it with our contractors.

 

Donna Ambriano, 32 Waughaw Road, Towaco:  I have trees that are now stumps.  It was left a huge mess.  Richter:  E-mail the location and we will take care of it.

 

Steve Samitt, Changebridge @ Montville:  On Route 202 they just devastated a bunch of trees.  Are you doing anything to make it look better?  Richter:  We are seeding.

 

John Alexander, 9 Ward Witty Drive, Towaco:  With this review, what is it that we can ask you to do with the BPU and are you going to do anything with the BPU for us?  Richter:  I don’t think we can side with one municipality.  We commented every time they passed regulations. 

 

Alexander:  We asked that we go back to the original guidelines.  What can we do to get it back to the way it was before?  Richter:  We will provide the Township with a copy of the federal regulations.

 

Alexander:  Is somebody actually going to say something to the BPU?  Richter:  People are complaining.  From what I understand, they are going to have public information sessions.  We don’t have a lot of influence with the BPU.  I would suggest you contact the BPU.  Also, organizations such as the Sierra Club should contact the BPU.

 

Sous:  It is the responsibility of the property owners to wage their concerns.  We are doing what we can to listen; and hopefully, have the BPU in attendance as they are tonight and were on site. 

 

Richter:  PSE&G has commented, and they have been published – December 2006 and March 2008.  We will comment again.

 

David Gorman, 1 Willard Lane, Towaco:  From my experience, the public has more influence with the BPU.  Gas line in ROW – concern – want to make sure in your concept studies this is taken care of.  This is public safety.  Ribardo:  We looked at the electric protection of the gas line.  We work together with the gas company.

 

Daughtry:  I don’t have a good feeling right now that these issues are on the table with your consulting firm.  I hope you will carry the issues back, and they will be factored into your final decision.

 

Nielson:  There are two members of the BPU here tonight.  Rick John, Division of Energy; and Dave Balengie, BPU technical staff. 

 

No one further from the public. 

 

Nielson:  Close public comments.

 

Nielson:  Called for a motion for a resolution to include comments and concerns discussed here regarding vegetation management to be forwarded to PSE&G and the BPU to be included in their public comment period before July 21.  Motion:  Sandham.  Second:  Daughtry.  Discussion:  Sandham:  I would ask that they abolish the current regulations and go back to the federal regulations.  This gives them a specific guideline to follow.  Nielson:  We asked to see the guidelines that were in place prior to 2006.  We have not seen them.  To endorse those regulations is not sufficient to me.  If we don’t see them by the comment period – July 21, then we missed the comment period, and I can submit them on my own and so can you.

 

Daughtry:  When were the federal regulations put in place?  Richter:  April 2006.  They are less stringent than the BPU regulations.  Very close to what we were doing in our own guidelines. 

 

Daughtry:  In your opinion, would the federal regulations be something we can lean on?  Would that help us with the BPU with our resolution?  Richter:  It would be a quick way to point you in the direction of a regulation that you would be happier with.  You will be happier with the federal regulations than the BPU regulations.  You will not be able to do anything less than the federal regulations.  I will provide you with a copy of that tomorrow.

 

Nielson:  If they are silent on waivers or exemptions, I will not agree with that.  Richter:  There are no standards on exemptions.

 

Nielson:  You are saying that the resolution is not going to include any language on waivers or exemptions. 

 

Sandham:  If you want to include that language, that is fine.  Bastone:  State it again please.

 

Nielson:  The resolution should request going back to federal regulations and that there is a process by which there is a waiver or exemption process that a property owner or a governing body can apply for to work with the BPU.  Motion:  Sandham.  Second:  Daughtry.

 

RESOLUTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MONTVILLE URGING THE NEW JERSEY BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES TO READOPT VEGETATIVE MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS:

 

            WHEREAS, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has adopted new, stringent rules mandating the removal of trees in the conductor zones and boarder zones of electric utility Rights-Of-Way (ROW) in New Jersey, which essentially results in the clear-cutting of ROW conductor and border zones, and

           

WHEREAS, the BPU is currently in the process of re-reviewing these regulations, in response to the overwhelming negative reaction to the unnecessary, radical increase in vegetative removal along utility ROWs, and

           

WHEREAS, the Township of Montville clearly recognizes and supports the intent of the legislation and regulations to protect our nation’s utility infrastructure, and

           

WHEREAS, the Township of Montville takes the position that the current New Jersey BPU regulations far exceed what is necessary to accomplish the legislative and regulatory goal of the protecting our electric utilities’ infrastructure, and

           

WHEREAS, the Township Committee recommends that the vegetative management regulations be re-written to continue to meet the goal of the rules, however, with a common-sense approach to vegetative removal, that protects the infrastructure, while also eliminating the requirement to remove vegetation that is clearly not a present threat to utility infrastructure,

           

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Committee of the Township of Montville, in the County of Morris and State of New Jersey, that the Township Committee urges the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to revise the vegetative management regulations 1) in conjunction with the less stringent Federal guidelines, 2) with a common-sense approach to vegetative removal, and 3) the revised rules encompass a waiver process that provides for the ability to make application for an appeal to vegetative removal in instances where residents within a ROW consider vegetative removal unreasonable and/or unnecessary.

 

Roll call vote – Daughtry, yes; Sandham, yes; Bader, yes; Braden, yes; Nielson, yes.  Resolution adopted.

 

Nielson:  Thank you to the representatives of PSE&G and the residents.  We will keep the website up to date.

 

Ribardo:  On the presentation, I would like to go back and go though it because one of the residents from Wantage brought up something about the numbers of the proximity from houses.  I will review that and get the presentation to you.

 

Meeting adjourned at 10:25 p.m.  Motion:  Sandham.  Second:  Daughtry.  All in favor.  Motion approved.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

                                                           

Gertrude H. Atkinson, Township Clerk

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 August 2008 )
 
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