Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli says the controversial transmission line may help his town avoid a repeat of the long outage experienced after Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli stepped onto a political third rail Tuesday, proclaiming his support for a controversial 10-mile long, high-voltage electricity transmission line that would end in Red Bank.
Proposed by Jersey Central Power & Light and dubbed the Monmouth County Reliability Project, the project revives a 25-year-old plan for a 230-kilovolt transmission line strung along the existing New Jersey Transit rail line between power substations in Aberdeen and Red Bank.
The $75 million plan, which requires approval by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection, will improve the reliability of electrical service to 214,000 customers, the company maintains.
But as their predecessors did in the early 1990s, residents living along the line’s path have said they fear it will have harmful health effects and reduce home values.
They’ve restarted a group called Residents Against Giant Electricity, or RAGE, and are urging NJ Transit to say “no” to hosting the line. They’ve scheduled a meeting for tonight at the Holmdel Senior/Community Center.
Lucarelli, in a letter to redbankgreen, recalling the long power outage endured by his town in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, said he’s endorsing JCP&L’s plan.
He wrote that he has to “admit that it’s easy for me to endorse this project, in that Fair Haven will realize a benefit without any impact to our residents.”
“I also realize that we must acknowledge the concerns of the 425 residents that live along the NJ Transit railroad, which is the pathway for this new power line,” Lucarelli wrote. “The forum for their voices to be heard will be the public hearings when the BPU considers the project, where fact and opinion can be discussed in an open process.”
But Lucarelli said the proposed power line will provide 214,000 customers in 45 towns in eastern Monmouth County “with a more reliable energy grid for generations to come.”
Here’s the full letter: Lucarelli JCP&L Letter 070516
The Red Bank council last month tabled a resolution calling on the BPU and DEP to reject the JCP&L’s plan.