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JCP&L controversial Monmouth power line faces final vote

Jersey Central Power & Light’s quest to build an $111 million high voltage line between Aberdeen and Red Bank is coming down to the wire.

The state Board of Public Utilities is due to decide JCP&L’s request at its Friday public meeting, more than three months after an administrative law judge recommended the board reject it.

JCP&L has said the project will bring a third transmission line into Red Bank to serve the area and improve system reliability.

Called the Monmouth County Reliability Link, the transmission power line would stretch for 10 miles alongside the North Jersey Coast Line train tracks. It would put a 230-kilovolt line in close proximity to hundreds of homes in Middletown, Holmdel, Hazlet and Aberdeen.

In March, Judge Gail Cookson issued a ruling against the Morristown-based utility. She said JCP&L has not proved the power line was necessary. Using NJ Transit’s right-of-way to install the line’s monopoles “is untried and untested and likely infeasible.”

She wrote that the utility set up “‘straw men’ alternatives” to the Monmouth line and “failed to give much more than short shrift to alternative corridors and ignored non-transmission solutions entirely.”

Cookson said JCP&L initially selected the corridor for the power line in January 2010 to rectify a “problem” that was not identified until 10 months later.

At its meeting, the board’s five commissioners can vote to accept, reject or modify Cookson’s decision.

A group, Residents Against Giant Electric, raised $500,000 to hire a lawyer and experts to fight JCP&L’s proposal during regulatory hearings. A group of affected towns hired a lawyer too. Watch a video at the top of this story of residents speaking out against the power line.

“I am just really looking forward to hearing the final decision from the BPU,” said Rachael Kanapka, president of Residents Against Giant Electric. “I am cautiously optimistic that they will uphold Judge Cookson’s decision and rule in our favor and deny the project.”

After the decision was announced in March, JCP&L said the judge contradicted the findings made by PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, and industry experts. “We strongly disagree that JCP&L failed to prove the need for the Monmouth County Reliability Project,” the utility said at the time.

JCP&L warned 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.

Read full article at APP.