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BOE OKs $1.5M PSE&G Power Line Settlement

Company would give money to mitigate effects of having a taller and higher-voltage line behind Lazar Middle School.

If Public Service Electric and Gas doubles the height and capacity of power lines next to a field behind as part of the company's planned Susquehanna-Roseland power line, the Montville Township will have $1.5 million from the company available to mitigate the effects of the project under a settlement agreement approved by the school board on Tuesday.

The money would be put in escrow and could be used, for example, to relocate or build new playgrounds, plant landscaping or gain access to additional fields, school board President Dr. Karen Cortellino said.

PSE&G also agrees to reimburse the Board of Education $75,000 for expenses it incurred during Board of Public Utilities proceedings, Cortellino said.

Cortellino said the school board found itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Safety concerns are still the school board's priority. But if the board didn't settle, the project still likely would be approved and the district would not have money available to mitigate the effects, she said.

The project already has approval from the state Board of Public Utilities and the backing of the federal government, which said in October it . The project still , which is holding a hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26 in Lafayette.

Board attorney Steve Edelstein told school board members during the Tuesday meeting at that the district might lose the opportunity for a settlement if it didn't act in 2011. As a condition of the settlement, the board agrees it will not oppose project in the BPU proceeding, "which in my mind is not that significant a concession since the BPU has already approved the project," Edelstein said.

The Board of Education participated in BPU proceedings objecting to the project, citing concerns with health issues, aesthetics and how it would limit options for expanding Lazar.

PSE&G experts said radiation levels would be safe and the school board's own expert, who questioned PSE&G's report, did not identify health risks, Cortellino said.

If the lines are built, BPU has ordered PSE&G to take readings of radiation from the power line to assure its estimates were correct.

The school board also agrees not to oppose any application the power company might make to increase its rates to recoup costs from the project or settlement, Edelstein said.

The settlement does not require the school board to give up its position in any other proceeding and doesn't preclude any individual from pursuing claims against PSE&G if they ever feel they are harmed by the power line, he said.

In May 2010, the Montville Township Committee approved its own settlement with PSE&G for $380,957 that would be paid once construction on the lines is underway. The settlement includes $135,000 for emergency preparedness and safety, $65,957.40 for landscaping and $150,000 for construction impacts, according to the township website.

Maxim Sapozhnikov December 21, 2011 at 01:38 PM
The kids get the radiation, the nearby residents and communities get screwed with both lower property values and increased rates, and the Board pockets the money. Why am I not surprised?
Heidi Calcagno December 21, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Let's pray that the National Park Service stays firm on its position that the line cannot go through the parks.
Truscha Quatrone December 21, 2011 at 05:14 PM
I wonder if the 1.5 million will cover the medical expenses needed when Montville students start getting cancers?
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 21, 2011 at 05:22 PM
>> I wonder if the 1.5 million will cover the medical expenses needed when >> Montville students start getting cancers? I assume the question was rhetorical but if it isn't, a single case of pediatric cancer attributed to the line by the jury will easily crack the Board's insurance liability limit. Montville would be far better off not taking the money, to let PSE&G force the line through and assume all liabilities.
Dan Grant December 21, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Remember that the Township has already settled with PSE&G. Without a united front I am not sure how much strength the Board alone would have had. The question I have is that the Board of Ed settled for 5 times what the Township received. Is there something PSE&G knows about a greated liability for Children?
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 21, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Pediatric cancer makes for horrible headlines that makes jurors add zeros to the award number. PSE&G wouldn't be in the business if they hadn't known it. Unless the agreement indemnifies the Board against future claims, the district may suddenly find itself with credit rating that Detroit wouldn't envy.
Truscha Quatrone December 21, 2011 at 09:53 PM
There is so much evidence on the internet about childhood leukemia. This is no longer theory it is now fact. Study: Power Lines Probably Risky http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2002/08/54637 Paul Boutin 08.19.02 The final report of a contested eight-year, $7 million study soon to be released by the California Department of Health Services may be the most credible statement yet on the connection between electric power lines and a variety of health problems. "To one degree or another, all three of the DHS scientists are inclined to believe that EMFs (electric and magnetic fields) can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and miscarriage," states a leaked copy of the final report from the California EMF Program, a study begun in 1993 on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Heidi Calcagno January 25, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Ask East Hanover about its cancer clusters. Then ask the Mayor of East Hanover why he'll never take the money.
Allison Para July 23, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Please see: http://www.change.org/petitions/pseg-bury-utility-lines-through-montville-twsp My meeting with PSEG is tomorrow.
Allison Para July 23, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Hi Truscha, I know you responded to my MPatch to bury the lines stating the the deal is signed. If we look at the settlement and EIP (Environmental Impact Plan) changes and disputes can still be made. I hope you will support me. I am meeting with PSEG tomorrow with my submission to the EIP. THANKS, Allison Please see: http://www.change.org/petitions/pseg-bury-utility-lines-through-montville-twsp
Allison Para July 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Yes, they do. I know this because this is my field and I have done the research and meeting with PSEG rep. George Sous tomorrow. Please support my effort: http://www.change.org/petitions/pseg-bury-utility-lines-through-montville-twsp Sincerely, Allison Para

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