The 10-mile high-capacity power line would run above the Red Bank train station on new, taller pylons and terminate a few blocks south at a power substation, according to JCP&L. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank council tabled a resolution Wednesday night opposing a proposed 10-mile long, high-voltage electricity transmission line that would end in the borough.
Councilman Mark Taylor put the brakes on the measure when he said he hadn’t seen it before the start of the governing body’s semimonthly meeting and wanted a chance to do some research into the issues.
Proposed by Jersey Central Power & Light and dubbed the Monmouth County Reliability Project, the plan resurrects one abandoned some 25 years ago for a 230-kilovolt transmission line strung along the existing New Jersey Transit railroad right-of-way between power substations in Aberdeen and Red Bank.
The line is needed to keep pace with demand for electricity, and will help reduce the frequency and duration of of service disruptions for nearly 214,000 customers, according to the electric utility.
But as they or their predecessors did in the early 1990s, residents living along its path have said they fear it will have harmful health effects and reduce home values. They’ve restarted a group they call Residents Against Giant Electricity, or RAGE.
The $75 million plan requires approval by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection, and no filings with either has yet been made by the company, which estimates construction would begin in June, 2017 and take a year to complete.
A resolution calling on the BPU and DEP to reject the plan made its way onto the council agenda after the draft agenda had been posted online on the borough website.
Mayor Pasquale Menna said he’d received roughly 60 emails and 40 phone calls from area residents, many of them homeowners in the River Plaza and Lincroft sections of Middletown, expressing concern about potential health issues related to electromagnetic fields. Environmental issues and fears about adverse impacts on property values have also been cited, he said.
“These are serious concerns,” said Councilwoman Kathy Horgan. “We’ve all heard from residents who are concerned about this.”
Menna said he’d first like to see the company address existing problems with utility poles throughout town that are in need of apparent replacement, including many joined to a second pole by rope for support. Better yet, JCP&L should put its last-mile infrastructure underground, as even many Third World countries are doing, he said.
“Instead of putting Bandaids on problems, they should be spending money on existing infrastructure,” he said.
In response to Taylor’s request for time to study the matter, Administrator Stanley Sickels said JCP&L had offered to make a presentation on the project to the council. Instead, Menna suggested that the company hold a public session, apart from a council meeting, perhaps at the Red Bank Middle School, where town officials and residents could learn more.
Meantime, the resolution opposing the project was tabled until the next scheduled council meeting, on July 13.