WESTFIELD, NJ – A public utility has reworked the route of a major infrastructure upgrade to satisfy residents angered by the proposal to install taller poles and more powerful electrical lines on residential streets in the municipality.
PSE&G announced Friday afternoon that the upgrade, which includes the addition of a 69,000-volt line through the municipality along an existing power line route, will run along South Avenue from the town’s border with Scotch Plains to its border with Garwood.
PSE&G said the plan, which had been approved by the regional grid operator PJM Interconnection, will alleviate the demand on the existing electric network.
“PSE&G has determined that it can relocate the line down South Avenue along an existing pole line,” a statement from the utility said. “This route impacts fewer trees and residential properties; does not include any schools, municipal fields or parks; and requires fewer new utility poles.”
The utility said it will trim and remove trees where needed along its right of way in keeping with the Board of Public Utilities’ Vegetation Management Rules. The poles are anticipated to be 65-feet-tall.
The initial plan, which included running lines in more residential areas, had angered the residents, prompting an online petition, “No Monster Power Lines in Westfield,” which had netted 2,060 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
“Transparency and communication were woefully lacking in PSE&G’s initial plan, which would have run through an entirely residential neighborhood, past public schools and the town pool, and required more than 100 trees to be removed or cut back," said Ed Kevelson, who lives along the original route and is a spokesman for the opposition group. "We are reviewing the details of this new proposal and encourage all Westfield residents to do the same."
Mayor Shelley Brindle in a statement posted to social media to coincide with PSE&G’s Friday release noted the utility has set a public workshop at which its experts will answer questions on the plan.
“There are still unanswered questions about this project, and I am glad to see PSE&G deliver on their promise to schedule a public forum for this purpose,” Brindle said in the statement. “They are the experts, and they owe everyone answers. I want to stress the importance of residents speaking with PSE&G officials directly at the April 10 meeting.”
PSE&G said experts on the project management, construction, vegetation management and safety teams, including on electromagnetic fields, will be available to answer questions from 7 – 9 p.m. at Edison Intermediate School, 800 Rahway Ave., Westfield.
“Residents can stop by the workshop at any time,” the PSE&G statement said. “Please note that there will be no formal presentation.”
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