Pallone Calls on New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to Side with Communities on Monmouth County Reliability Project Appeal

Mar 24, 2017

Long Branch, NJ – Today in a letter to Richard Mroz, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) asked the board to accept a motion by Monmouth County local communities to stay consideration of Jersey Central Power and Light’s (JCP&L) application to construct the Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP). The plan for JCP&L’s new transmission line would impact Aberdeen, Hazlet and Middletown in Pallone’s district and run along New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast line.

Earlier this year, the state Rate Counsel raised questions about the necessity of the project to increase reliability in Monmouth County. The Rate Counsel described a number of technological alternatives that could increase reliability without requiring the construction of a transmission line like MCRP. Additionally, many residents have argued that the project is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the public health, environment, and economy of their communities. The plan states that poles will be up to 210 feet tall in some places, and many residents are worried that this will negatively affect their home values. Pallone testified at the January 25th public hearing on MCRP in Middletown and expressed his opposition.

Pallone has long voiced concerns with JCP&L’s proposal. In October, Pallone sent a letter to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voicing his concerns over JCP&L’s proposal for the MCRP. In August, he shared his concerns with BPU regarding JCP&L’s proposal to transfer all of its transmission assets to Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission. JCP&L withdrew its transfer proposal in September, a week after Pallone’s statement.

The text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Richard Mroz
President
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
44 S. Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

Re: Docket No. EO16080750

Dear President Mroz:

I write regarding the upcoming March 24, 2017 meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to consider the motion by Monmouth County local communities to stay consideration of Jersey Central Power and Light’s (JCP&L) application to construct the Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP). I strongly encourage you and the other commissioners to grant their motion. 

As part of seeking approval for the proposed 10-mile transmission line, which would run through my Congressional district, JCP&L must obtain permission from NJ Transit to use existing rights-of-way along the North Jersey Coast Line. Despite having failed to consider fully other options, JCP&L has made it clear that it believes that this route is the only viable one for this project.  NJ Transit has not yet consented to use of its right-of-way.

There is no substantive reason for the BPU to continue consideration of JCP&L’s project application for the MCRP until the company obtains the necessary approval for use of the right-of-way from NJ Transit. Going forward with proceedings is a waste of resources for all parties until JCP&L can produce the required land-use agreement. Recognizing this, in October, communities that would be impacted by the MCRP filed a motion to dismiss or stay the approval process.  Unfortunately, Administrative Law Judge Cookson declined to grant that motion. The towns have now appealed to BPU, and the Board should seriously consider their case.  Failure to grant this motion ensures that additional time and resources will be devoted to considering this ill-conceived project, despite JCP&L having failed to secure the land and other perquisites necessary for it to build the project. 

Additionally, it is important to point out that, when JCP&L proposed a substantially similar transmission project in 1989, Administrative Law Judge Perselay ruled that if the utility had not secured a land-use agreement with NJ Transit prior to the evidentiary hearing’s start date, the approval process could not move forward. BPU should honor that precedent when considering its decision on the towns’ appeal to reconsider their motion.

Thank you for attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

                                                                       

                                                                        FRANK PALLONE, JR.
                                                                        Member of Congress