With Choppers, PSE&G Flies High to Build New Towers for Transmission Upgrade

Tom Johnson | September 29, 2015 | Energy & Environment
Investment in transmission enhances capacity and service in northern part of state, complies with requirements of operator of regional grid

skycrane helicopter
Public Service Electric & Gas is taking to the air to tackle a major expansion of its transmission system.

Beginning next week, the Newark utility will use a large, specialized helicopter called a Skycrane to erect 12 transmission structures in North Arlington in the Meadowlands.

The helicopter is being used to transport sections of the towers, which will be 115-feet tall when completed, over environmentally sensitive areas, including wetlands along the utility’s right-of-way for its Northeast Grid Transmission project.

Helicopters are commonly used for a variety of transmission projects where it is more practical to approach the job from the air.

In this case, pilots will use the helicopter to pick up individual sections and move them into position to be assembled by workers who will secure each section and bolt it into place.

“By using a Skycrane, we can significantly reduce trucks, cranes, and other project equipment from traveling environmentally sensitive areas,’’ said Kim Hanemann, PSE&G senior vice president of delivery projects and construction. “It’s just one of many steps we’re taking to upgrade our electric infrastructure while safeguarding the environment.’’

The $975 million Northeast Grid Reliability project is designed to upgrade power service in the northern part of the state, mostly on existing overhead transmission lines, in order to comply with PJM Interconnection’s requirements. PJM oversees operation of the regional transmission system.

Utility officials said the project will ensure reliable electric power for nearly 1 million residents and business that require increased electric capacity, provide better quality of service, and reduce congestion on the transmission system, which boosts the cost of electricity.

The Northeast project involves the upgrading of a 50-mile section of the utility’s overhead transmission system and a 15-mile underground circuit through parts of Bergen and Passaic counties, as well as reconfiguration of switching stations.

The project is one of several being undertaken by PSE&G on its transmission system. The utility wants to invest up to $10 billion in the system over the next five years.