JCP&L power line: Is there a cheaper alternative?
Can Jersey Central Power & Light’s problem with keeping Monmouth County electrified be solved without the need for a new power line between Aberdeen and Red Bank?
An expert hired by Residents Against Giant Electric, a grassroots group in the midst of a campaign against JCP&L’s Monmouth County Reliability Project, thinks so. He has an alternative that doesn’t require the construction of a new high-voltage transmission line.
In testimony filed with state Administrative Law Judge Gail M. Cookson on Wednesday, electric utility consultant P. Jeffery Palermo said his alternative, which would consist of upgrading existing lines and adding some network equipment, would cost only about a quarter of the estimated $111 million price tag for JCP&L’s project. It followed what Palermo said during recent hearings before Cookson.
“My mindset after those hearings was I think we put our money where our mouths were,” said Rachael Kanapka, president of RAGE. “We did a very good job of challenging JCP&L’s assertion of the need for the project.”
JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said the utility will respond to Palermo’s conclusions at an upcoming evidentiary hearing. “We certainly disagree,” he said.
A question of necessity
The utility says its Monmouth County Reliability Project is meant to provide a third transmission line into Red Bank to serve the area and improve system reliability. The 10-mile 230-kilovolt transmission line between Aberdeen and Red Bank would run along the North Jersey Coast Line railroad tracks. NJ Transit has not yet decided whether it will allow the utility to place the line along its right of way.
PJM Interconnection, the organization that oversees the electric grid in 13 states and Washington, D.C., has identified it as a necessary project to reduce the length and frequency of outages in Monmouth County. JCP&L warns of the potential for extended, widespread power outages should the two other transmission lines that run into Red Bank, which are hung next to each other on the same structures, fail at the same time.
But Palermo concluded there was a better way. RAGE paid for expensive simulations to allow Palermo to show Cookson that his conclusions will solve PJM’s and JCP&L’s concerns without a new transmission line.