Keryn did a great job of reporting on the public hearings in NJ concerning the Susquehanna-Roseland EIS process. You still have until Jan. 31 to file on line comments at the National Park Service site.
I want to focus in this post on one fact that Keryn pulled out of the public testimony. Here is the key paragraph from Keryn’s post:
PPL claims that they haven’t “identified precise locations” of the land they propose to purchase for their “mitigation package” yet. So, PPL, what happens when the owners don’t want to sell? Do you offer them more money, or do you use your state-granted eminent domain powers to take the land from a private individual and give it to the NPS or other conservation group? I don’t see anyone addressing this question yet.
PPL is Pennsylvania Power & Light, the partner of NJ-based power company PSEG in the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project.
Keryn puts her finger right on the key question here. Apparently, PPL/PSEG have an answer to the question “Where is the land that you will take to give to the National Park Service?” The power companies’ answer is “Wherever.”
That seems to be the standard answer that power companies expect the NPS to swallow. Remember the recent letter that AEP/FE filed with the NPS about the new “deadline” for the PATH EIS? The “six months after whenever” letter?
Keryn goes on to the issue that should be front and center on this Obama administration ramrod effort. If the power companies don’t already have this land that they are claiming they will give to the federal government, how do they expect to get it? The logical answer is that they will seize this privately-owned real estate through state or federal eminent domain processes.
In other words, they will take this land by force, claiming some public need for the land, when in reality it is just some wampum in a political deal.
You still have a little more than 24 hours to tell the Park Service that you don’t like the idea of a “trade” that involves picking rate payers pockets for an unneeded power line and the forcible seizure of private property to make it happen.
Oh, and that $30 million cost for the “wherever” land? That’s just a number. The only place that the actual real estate acquisition cost could be contested after the deal is “put in place” would be the FERC cost recovery process. We know how well that has worked out. Not a single state regulator or so-called “consumer advocate” have deigned to challenge the costs for PATH or TrAIL at FERC. Only the reboubtable Keryn and Ali (now known to AEP/FE simply as “Alison” – redoubtable indeed!) have taken the time to defend rate payers from the power company money grab in PATH. Their efforts have lead FERC to conduct a full audit of TrAIL’s charges to rate payers.
Will anyone take the time or trouble to challenge PPL’s and PSEG’s cost claims for the S-R line? Will anyone be there to challenge them when their $30 million claim for their “wherever” land turns into $60 million? The $30 million current cost estimate is just as fictional at this point as the power companies’ “wherever” land.
There is considerable pressure being applied to the National Park Service by their bosses, Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar and President Obama, to accept the PPL/PSEG “mitigation package” (gotta love the corporate jargon). So far, all we know is that this “package” is a pig in a poke for which PJM rate payers will be paying with a blank check. Is this any way to do business?