WESTFIELD, NJ — Municipal officials and advocates have detailed an alternate route for PSE&G to place upgraded power lines. While the officials are optimistic, PSE&G said Tuesday the new plan — the third it is considering for the area — brings with it significant engineering, safety and coordination considerations.
Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle and Cranford Mayor Patrick Giblin on Monday both said that PSE&G is considering running the proposed 69-kilovolt line along the Conrail train line and through a reservation located in Scotch Plains. Their announcements come amid strident resident opposition to the existing plan and a Thursday measure from the Union County Freeholders anticipated to support municipal efforts to relocate the power lines.
“PSE&G is now considering an entirely different route utilizing the Conrail right of way and Ash Brook Reservation to route the line from the Fanwood substation to the Abilene substation in Cranford,” said Brindle in her statement. “This would eliminate the need for the route to go through Westfield and Garwood altogether.”
It would be the third plan presented for the power line upgrade to include taller 65-foot poles since Westfield and PSE&G began talks over the planned upgrades in December. Brindle and Giblin in their separate statements both said it is premature to know the likelihood of the reroute happening. However, Brindle on Tuesday told TAPinto Westfield she is optimistic.
“Until they really get into the weeds they can’t confirm, but so far so good,” she said. “I don’t think PSE&G would have shared that much with us unless they thought it was a real possibility.” The proposal would have the line cut through Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Clark and Cranford, but Brindle said that it would circumvent residential areas.
PSE&G on Tuesday said that the new route would involve substantial engineering, coordination and safety considerations for both the installation of the lines and their ongoing maintenance.
“We have performed preliminary engineering and cost estimates and are in the process of refining both of these,” Rebecca Mazzarella, a PSE&G spokeswoman, told TAPinto Westfield. “More refined engineering and cost estimates are expected to be completed by Friday, May 24. We have a principal obligation to discuss this information with the township officials first. These meetings are expected to be held in the next few weeks.”
The alternate option emerged amid strident objections from residents concerned about a proposal for the poles, which would have the line run along South Avenue in Westfield from its border with Scotch Plains to Garwood. No Monster Power Lines — Westfield has been lobbying elected officials for solutions that do not impact the town.
David Krieger, a spokesman for No Monster Power Lines — Westfield in a statement Monday said the proposed route along the Conrail line follows an existing 230 kV line between PSE&G’s Aldene substation in Cranford and the substation on Front Street in Scotch Plains.
“This solution would result in entirely avoiding our residential streets as well as South Avenue. No doubt, [it would be] a wonderful solution for Westfield if this project has to happen at all,” said Krieger in the statement. “This would also spare any new homes, businesses, schools and parks from being affected in Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Garwood and Cranford.”
The group further encouraged the public to attend the freeholders’ Thursday meeting where the board is anticipated to adopt a resolution in support of municipal efforts to have PSE&G relocated the power line route.
“We implore Westfield Town officials to contact PSE&G and express support for this proposal on the condition that the 69 kV lines do not go along any streets in Westfield, including not going down Lamberts Mill Road, which serves as the border between Westfield and Scotch Plains,” Krieger added.
While a final draft of the freeholders’ Thursday resolution on the power lines was not available Tuesday, the measure on the agenda supports municipal officials efforts to relocate the lines outside of residential areas and recommends a period of public comment and investigation.
The freeholder board is anticipated to vote on the resolution at its Thursday, May 16, meeting set for 7 p.m. at 10 Elizabethtown Plaza in Elizabeth.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh