What is the Monmouth County Reliability Project?
The Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP) is a new 230-kV transmission line, substation enhancement and modern technology upgrade that will result in a stronger and more modern electrical system benefitting nearly 214,000 JCP&L customers in Monmouth County.
It is part of JCP&L’s Energizing the Future initiative – a multi-year energy reliability program designed to enhance system reliability for our customers. As part of that program, JCP&L has already completed a number of substation and transmission line upgrades and expansions benefiting customers in Monmouth, Hunterdon, Mercer and Burlington counties.
How does Monmouth County benefit?
Our customers in Monmouth County will see numerous benefits. Building this project will improve service reliability for nearly 214,000 residential and commercial customers. Modern technologies will deliver real-time information about system conditions so we can better monitor and respond to customer power needs. Together with substation enhancements and the new transmission line, this technology will help reduce the length and frequency of service disruptions while delivering the dependable power our customers require.
Currently, an electricity disruption between Aberdeen and Red Bank would result in a significant power outage affecting customers across the county. The proposed transmission line provides another supply of electricity into the area, enhancing reliability for our Monmouth County customers.
Where can I review JCP&L’s project filing with the BPU?
On August 9, 2016, JCP&L filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for the Monmouth County Reliability Project. It is available for public review here.
Why is the MCRP necessary?
JCP&L is responsible for making sure that our customers have the reliable electricity they need for their daily lives. Demand for electricity has increased, both due to growth in our communities and our increasing reliance on devices powered by electricity. The proposed system upgrades will use state-of-the-art equipment to deliver high-quality, reliable electricity.
This project is necessary to continue to provide our customers the service they deserve, and the expert agrees. PJM Interconnection, the organization that coordinates the movement of electricity and oversees transmission reliability across 13 states, has identified this transmission line as necessary, and it should be built to continue to provide JCP&L customers with dependable electricity service.
Where can I find more information about the PJM study that identified a need for this project?
In its 2011 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP), PJM identified a need for the MCRP. PJM has verified that the proposed project addresses the reliability concern. Please follow this link to view the PJM analysis: http://www.pjm.com/documents/reports/rtep-documents/2011-rtep.aspx.
What routes did JCP&L consider for the project?
To ensure JCP&L chose the best possible route, we considered 17 alternatives, including existing highways, local roads and other rights-of-way. The proposed route was chosen because it uses existing land already designated for public use and minimizes social, environmental and financial impacts on the community. The complete Routing Study is available for review here.
What are the economic benefits of the project?
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.
Which communities will host this construction?
The new transmission line will run nearly 10 miles between existing substations in Aberdeen Township and Red Bank on land already designated for public use and containing electrical equipment servicing the New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast rail line. The line will cross portions of Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, and Middletown Townships, as well as Red Bank.
Why can’t the line be built underground?
While building the project underground may seem like a viable option, there are many significant obstacles to burying a 230-kilovolt transmission line. Burying the line along the proposed route would be extremely challenging because of the proximity to the railroad and its underground equipment. Typically, placing a 230-kV transmission line underground would require a digging a large trench, resulting in extensive traffic disruptions across multiple communities, substantial environmental considerations, and significantly higher costs. Underground lines are also much more difficult to service and repair.
What about exposure to electric and magnetic fields?
JCP&L understands that residents along the proposed route have concerns about electric and magnetic fields (EMF). The overall conclusion reached by national and international scientific and health agencies makes clear that exposures to EMF that people encounter in their daily life, including those from transmission lines like the one considered here, do not pose any recognized health risks.
The proposed levels of magnetic field from the transmission line along the right-of-way are similar to levels associated with wood pole distribution lines that have existed throughout the country for nearly one hundred years, as well as levels found in homes, businesses, and schools near electrical wiring and appliances.
As part of JCP&L’s BPU filing for this project, the company has submitted a comprehensive analysis of the existing and proposed EMF levels along the project corridor. While there are no national standards or limits in the United States for EMF associated with power lines, this project meets New Jersey’s electric field guideline for the edge of the right-of-way.
How will this project affect the environment?
JCP&L takes its commitment to the environment very seriously, and the MCRP is no exception. Overseeing the permitting, planning and reporting processes for this project is the responsibility of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These agencies will ensure our company is taking every step necessary to protect the environment.
How does JCP&L intend to address the impacts of the proposed project on historic landmarks?
In addition to the BPU petition, JCP&L will apply to various agencies for approvals and authorizations to proceed with the project, including the NJDEP State Historic Perseveration Office.
Why can’t solar or alternative energy sources be used instead?
The MCRP is necessary to deliver the reliable electricity our customers deserve, regardless of the electricity source.
What about our property values?
We know your home is an important investment. An independent real estate expert has found that the project will not impact property values, and that study was submitted as part of our petition to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. As part of the analysis, the appraiser conducted a review of studies completed on the potential impact to market values of properties adjacent to high voltage transmission lines. We know our customers and local leaders will be holding us accountable to protect the natural beauty of our community, and we embrace that responsibility.
What is the height of the proposed monopoles and how is the height determined?
At this time, transmission engineering, including structure locations and height, have not been finalized. Structure locations and height will vary depending on specific site conditions including existing transmission structures, topography and spanning distances.
Based on preliminary engineering, structures height will vary between 110 and 210 feet, with the taller structures necessary for spanning the Navesink River. On average, the proposed monopoles will be 140 feet tall. The height of each pole is determined by site topography and clearances required by the National Electrical Safety Code. These clearances ensure appropriate distances between wires on a pole and between the lowest transmission line wire and the exiting New Jersey Transit catenary. Each wire requires approximately 21 feet of clearance, including the static wire at the top of each pole. The poles are individually designed and engineered to meet these safety requirements.
Will there be any noise from the transmission line?
As part of our BPU filing, we conducted an audible noise analysis, which determined that the proposed transmission line will comply with the New Jersey Administrative Code limit of 50 decibels at the edge of the right-of-way. Sound associated with transmission lines is much more common on higher voltage lines than the one proposed here. Additionally, we have selected wires that minimize any potential sound from the proposed line.
Why is this project needed now?
We’re all relying on power like never before. Just as we’ve come to expect more bandwidth and higher speeds from our internet providers, we are also expecting more from our electric companies. At the same time, electric system equipment has improved and is more reliable than ever. JCP&L has been working hard to continuously enhance your service, even as population and demand on the system continue to grow. This project will help reduce the length and frequency of service disruptions while delivering the additional electricity our customers require.
Is this the same project JCP&L has proposed in the past?
It is similar to prior projects that JCP&L proposed in the same areas of Monmouth County. Population growth and real estate development forecasted 30 years ago prompted recommendations in the 1980s and 1990s for upgrades of the transmission infrastructure in Monmouth County. Now, in 2016, this forecasted growth has come to fruition, and we no longer can delay this investment.
How will this project affect my electric bill?
We are doing everything we can to minimize expenses for this project, including building it above ground and using existing rights-of-way instead of acquiring new land.
How can interested parties provide feedback?
JCP&L values your input. We hosted a series of open houses on June 7 & 8 and are currently reviewing the feedback we received. Please contact us with any questions or concerns about the project.
What is the project schedule?
JCP&L filed formal petition for MCRP with the New Jersey Board of Utilities on August 9, 2016. The BPU determines the timing of the public hearing, which is scheduled after the petition is filed. All documents are available for review by the public.
Preliminary Project Schedule
BPU Filing Summer 2016
Construction Begins August 2017
Phase 1 of Construction Completed June 2018
Phase 2 of Construction Completed June 2019
In-Service Date June 2019