Residents who formed a group to oppose the new electric proposal by Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) unveiled a solution to this project – at a cost of $30 million.
The group against the project, Residents Against Giant Electric (RAGE), held a press conference where its alternative plan was announced at the Middletown Public Library’s Community Room on Oct. 30.
More than 25 citizens attended the session where RAGE President Rachael Kanapka delivered a presentation that explained the organization’s alternative plan for the MCRP.
Kanapka announced that RAGE’s electrical expert, Jeff Palermo, presented his findings for an alternative plan for the MCRP to Office of Administrative Law Judge Gail Cookson during several hearings during the course of this year.
Based on Palermo findings, RAGE’s proposed alternative plan called for the installation of two electrical devices called STATCOM, each the size of a mobile home, and to update 11 existing 34.5 kV electrical lines coming out of the Borough of Red Bank, according to Kanapka.
The MCRP is a proposed 10-mile, 230-kV transmission line, which if approved, will be built on an existing New Jersey Transit right of way (ROW) land that cuts through Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, Middletown, Red Bank and portions of other municipalities in Monmouth County.
Kanapka reviewed the group’s involvement since its mission began 17 months ago.
She reported that once RAGE hired attorney Peter Dickson the group took on four expert witnesses in its effort to stop the project. The group asked the experts to reveal proof of the lack of project need, the property value impact, the dangers of electric and magnetic fields exposure and the visual impact.
RAGE became intervenors on Oct. 5, 2016, and submitted summary legal brief for this case, on Oct. 23, according to Musa.
The cost estimate for RAGE’s alternative is around $30 million or 70 percent less than the stated cost of the MCRP, according to Kanapka.
The MCRP, according to the JCP&L, is at a stated cost of $111 million and is needed to address a “P7 contingency,” the simultaneous loss of two adjacent transmission lines on a common structure leading to a voltage collapse, according to Kanapka.
Palermo also performed power flow studies on his proposed solution, Kanapka said.
“During [Palermo] in-person testimony in front of Judge Cookson at the Office of Administrative Law hearings, Palermo was able to get on the stand, representing the public, and say, ‘I found a better way. I did run the power flow analysis on the STATCOM proposed solution, and it worked. No new transmission line needed.'”
Along with Kanapka and Musa, other officials and RAGE members who were present at the Oct. 30 meeting were Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Monmouth, Middlesex), Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Holmdel Mayor Greg Buontempo, Hazlet Mayor Sue Riley, Holmdel Deputy Mayor Patrick Impreveduto, Middletown Deputy Mayor Stephanie Murray, RAGE Treasurer Steve Lunanuova, and RAGE Core Leaders Kin Gee, Janet Berk and Tara Corcoran-Clark.
The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) Judge Gail Cookson will decide whether or not the MCRP should be built. All of the hearings are over, testimonies were provided, and all intervenors have filed their briefs, according to Gee.
According to Gee, all parties in the case will have an opportunity to file a response brief and once that closes, Cookson will have 45 days to approve or reject the MCRP.
All response briefs are due on Nov. 13, according to Musa.
Once Cookson renders a decision, that verdict will go to the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) who will have 45 days to make a final determination for the MCRP, according to Gee.
RAGE has raise about $450,000 to cover legal and expert expenses, according to Lunanuova.
JCP&L, under its parent company FirstEnergy, has insisted that the MCRP will not only improve its customers’ service reliability, but the new line will also bring technological, service and economic benefits to Monmouth County, according to JCP&L’s MCRP website.
In addition to creating 245 jobs, economic benefits include nearly $43 million in compensation, nearly $60 million in gross domestic product and nearly $12.6 million in state and local revenues, according to JCP&L’s MCRP website.
No officials or representatives from JCP&L were present at the conference.
“There is nothing new in the information that was presented by RAGE. We strongly disagree with RAGE’s proposed alternative to the Monmouth County Reliability Project. The ‘alternative’ proposed by RAGE would be more expensive to construct, more disruptive to JCP&L’s customers in Monmouth County, and result in a less robust electrical system than the MCRP,” said Ron Morano, FirstEnergy’s senior communications representative, in a statement.
According to Kanapka, when the MCRP was first introduced, JCP&L marketed the project as being needed in order to increase reliability and reduce reduce outages.
“But that’s not the case. The two transmission lines we have already didn’t fail during Irene or Sandy, and we’ve only had a whopping eight hours of lost power total over the past 30 years from transmission line problems,” Kanapka said. “That’s it. Failing distribution lines and substation issues are the reason for our outages. Plus, despite what JCP&L was saying in their marketing, electricity sales are actually decreasing in New Jersey.”
JCP&L held a press briefing on March 28 in Red Bank where JCP&L officials further elaborated on the need for the new transmission line. They referenced two unexpected power outrages that occurred in 2008 and 2010 due to equipment issues.
Furthermore, both JCP&L and PJM Interconnection, which is the regional grid operator, have concluded that construction of a third, separately-located line is necessary to prevent additional large-scale outages and provide JCP&L customers with dependable electricity service, according to a prepared statement from JCP&L.
“JCP&L has provided a significant amount of expert testimony in support of the need for this project. The testimony regarding need was from both the company as well as PJM,” Morano said in a statement. “The Administrative Law Judge has the testimony and main briefs before her. We are confident that the [judge] will rule in favor of the MCRP.”
For more information about RAGE’s alternative plan visit www.rage2016.com/about/ or www.facebook.com/NJRAGE16/.
For more information about the MCRP visit www.monmouthreliability.com/questions-and-answers/.
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.