By Ron Leir
PSE&G is looking to get approvals from the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment to replace 11 giant power transmission towers, all in South Kearny, with towers even bigger.
The new towers would range from 140 to 200 feet tall, but, since the town has an 80-foot height restriction on all structures, from which it allows only a 10% deviance, PSE&G will need a hardship variance.
In October, PSE&G representatives told the zoning board that the utility needs to upgrade its power service, from the current 138 KV to 230 KV, to comply with requirements set by the PJM Interconnection, the regional energy grid, to avoid penalties that utility project director Thomas McGuire said, “could range up to a million dollars a day if we do not meet that obligation.”
These improvements, according to a PSE&G fact sheet, “will ensure reliable electric power for nearly 1 million New Jersey residents in the northern part of the state by upgrading the overhead transmission system and substations … and by adding additional underground circuits ….”
Because the existing power infrastructure is 85 years old, it will soon no longer be adequate to handle the ever-increasing consumer demand for electricity in the region, PSE&G says.
In his testimony to the zoning board, McGuire said putting in the new infrastructure is “really going to solve problems in North Jersey, basically through Essex, Passaic, Bergen and Hudson counties.”
As part of the Northeast Grid Reliability Project, PSE&G has mapped out overhead transmission upgrades that follow a 25-mile route along existing PSE&G rights-of-way extending from Roseland, through Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Little Falls, Clifton, Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville, North Arlington, Newark, Lyndhurst, Kearny and Jersey City.
Total project cost, which includes reconfiguration of switching stations in Roseland, Clifton, Saddle Brook, Newark and Jersey City, and the addition of new underground transmission circuits in 20 towns, including Kearny, is estimated at $895 million.
In Kearny, new towers are proposed for locations in the meadows, Pennsylvania Ave., Jacobus Ave., Central Ave. and Fish House Road.
PSE&G electrical engineer John Wang testified at the October hearing that of the 11 new towers, eight would be tubular steel monopoles and three would be steel lattice towers, all designed to withstand the impact of winds up to 105 mph.
Of 39 existing PSE&G towers in Kearny, the utility says that five that are spread across the east and west spurs of the N.J. Turnpike are already capable of supporting 230KV. “Existing towers in Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville (and) North Arlington are already built for 230KV
“Existing towers in Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville (and) North Arlington are already built for 230KV power andpower and will not be replaced,” PSE&G says.
If the utility gets an okay to proceed from the Kearny zoning board, McGuire anticipates that work would begin in spring 2014 and finish by spring 2015.
No power outages are expected during the job because the utility would switch to other electrical transmission circuits. “We will not be taking our lines out during service time peak loads,” McGuire told the zoning board.
The zoning board will vote on the plan Dec. 4.