PSE&G, Power-Grid Operator Say They’re Ready for a Sizzling Summer

With Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line fully operational, customers of state's largest utility can crank up their AC without worry

transmission towers
With the unofficial start of summer this weekend, the operator of the nation’s electric grid said it is ready to meet expected power demand during the year’s hottest months.

Even with less installed generating capacity than last year because of plant retirements, PJM Interconnection said it expects to have sufficient power to keep air conditioners and all electrical devices running this summer.

“Summer can be the real test of our system because of the heavy use of air conditioning across the 13-state region,’’ said Michel Kormos, executive vice president of operations for PJM, which serves 61 million people.

Public Service Electric & Gas, New Jersey’s largest electric utility, echoed those sentiments, saying with the new Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line now fully operational, it is equipped to meet customer demand this summer.

A portion of the controversial transmission line, which cuts across parts of the New Jersey Highlands as well as the Delaware River National Recreation Area, was energized in April 2014. Earlier this month, a segment of the line heading eastward from Berwick, PA to PSE&G’s switching station in Hopatcong became operational.

[related]PSE&G has spent more than $775 million on the 45-mile line cutting through northern New Jersey. The 500-kilovolt line has eliminated the need to replace more than 20 individual transmission lines to maintain reliability, according to PSE&G.

But many environmental groups questioned the need for the line, saying power demand is slacking off. They sought to block the project in court, but were unsuccessful.

Instead of spending money on transmission lines, environmentalists argued the money would be better spent on renewable energy, promoting projects to reduce energy use, and developing smaller, localized power plants.

But PSE&G and PJM contend the new transmission line will reduce congestion on the power grid, a problem that leads to higher electricity costs for consumers and businesses.

Karen Johnson, a spokeswoman for PSE&G, noted that the opening of a section of the line in New Jersey, already has lowered costs for ratepayers in last year’s auction conducted by PJM to ensure there is enough capacity to meet demand.

PJM’s forecast for this summer’s projected electricity demand is 155,279 megawatts at its peak. The highest demand for power in PJM was 165,492 megawatts during a sizzling heat wave in July 2011. One megawatt of electricity is enough to power 800 to 1,000 homes.

“In addition to maintaining electric capacity and reliability, the energizing of this line marks the completion of a major project that has created thousands of New Jersey jobs and has benefitted the state’s economy,’’ said Kim Hanemann, senior vice president of delivery products and construction for PSE&G.