PSEG/PPL Will Take S-R Mitigation Land “Wherever”

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?

5 thoughts on “PSEG/PPL Will Take S-R Mitigation Land “Wherever”

  1. One of the things I was reminded of in the public comment is that the park was created from land sacrificed by private individuals rather than have the valley flooded to create some other infrastructure project. Private landowners sacrificed to create the park… and now their sacrifice is about to be sold to a corporation who intends to sacrifice a wider group of landowners to accomplish their goal. Those landowners didn’t go through all that to have it handed over to a for-profit corporation so it could be permanently ruined, all in the name of $$$.

    What was the most revolting was the handful of conservation/environmental groups who are making plans to spend the $30M to advance their own goals. One woman had a better idea: spend the $30M on energy efficiency improvements for the citizens of NJ who supposedly “need” the line.

    There was the usual parade of chamber of commerce types whose arguments were written for them by the power companies. And a handful of local union guys trying to pretend that approval would provide them with jobs. Aside from the fact that these people had their facts wrong, their arguments just weren’t convincing in the face of the NPS not considering “need” or the effects of S-R outside federal boundaries (you know that song & dance, Bill). Those two types of public commenters should have just stayed home and saved their breath.

  2. Keep in mind that the NPS’s stated preference, or “no build” alternative, does not mean that the NPS thinks the S-R line should not be built. The NPS no build preference means only that the agency does not believe the S-R line should be built through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. PPL/PSEG still have the option to locate the line anywhere they want, as long as it isn’t in the DWGNRA.

    Despite what the power companies claim, this is not such a big deal. When AEP built their Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry 765 kv line back in the early 2000s, they modified their original route to minimize impacts on federal land. Although they bitched and moaned about it at the time, everyone was able to live with it.

    Power companies always whine and claim the sky is going to fall if they don’t get their way. But they’ll get over it.

  3. Another observation, just for fun…

    I noted that PSE&G & PPL sent corporate drones to make 3 minutes public comments, just like the citizens were allowed to make.

    In our case, PATH sent front group and PEAT-activated stooges to speak on their behalf, getting a combined speaking time greater than they would have been allowed if they had spoken on their own behalf. (Not that it mattered, their stooges were just that!) Point being: Why couldn’t PATH just be honest? Why was it always about some sneaky lie with these guys? When they found out that public comment was allowed at the first EIS meeting in Harpers Ferry, they could have drawn straws and elected one of their own to speak for the allotted time. Instead, they huddled in the back of the room and made plans for the following two nights at Purcellville and Frederick to deploy some stooges to attempt to refute the honest citizens.

    And hilarity ensued………. 🙂

  4. Those of us whose property (homes, businesses, NJ’s 3 largest Boyscout Camps, towns,
    villages, resorts, etc) were taken, believed that the 1965 Congressional Act for the DWGNRA was for public outdoor recreation. Can anyone tell us how a 195 foot
    transmission line is good for outdoor recreation? Are we to swing on it? Shall our
    children have ladders on which to climb up and down the poles? Will PSE&G and PPL
    please brief us on what innovative new kinds of outdoor recreation they will provide for
    us? The land taking was over 10,000 private properties. WE ARE NOT ALL DEAD, SIRS!
    There is room in this issue for legal action that needs to be “FAST AND FURIOUS.”
    Good law is the same as good manners. There certainly is nothing mannerly in forcing –
    we repeat – FORCING an industrial project upon an OUTDOOR PUBLIC RECREATIONAL
    PROJECT. The 1965 Act was to REMOVE ALL MANMADE OBJECTS FROM WITHIN
    THE BOUNDARY OF THE PARK. The powerline certainly is MANMADE and EVEN ITS
    CONSIDERATION IS RIDICULOUS. If Cingress has changed its mind and anything
    goes in this Park, we want to retrieve our farms and our homesteads. The NPS has turned
    down a number of other would-be trespassers. WE NEED TO PROVIDE A GRAND SHOW
    OF OPPOSITION, either by a march on D,C., a 100 pound petition, or a Court Trial.
    These utilities must be aware that the American dollar is about to disappear, that
    rate-payers (one-half of whom cannot afford food for their table) already face rising
    monthly electricity bills; that the other half of ratepayers will have to supply the absent
    payments from the depressed half; that all bank accounts are slowly being drained and
    the future paying down of the national debt will render us next to poverty, How ill the utilities
    PAY FOR THIS MISJUDGEMENT ON THEIR PART? Do they want to starve us and then
    foreclose on all our homes? SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE. WHERE HAS COMMON
    SENSE GONE?

  5. Common sense has become a line item on the corporate balance sheet. Perhaps PSE&G & PPL will offer a “Bribery” merit badge as part of their “mitigation package”?

    Organize the march on DC, and I’m there! This swindling of landowners and ratepayers is outrageous!

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