The state approved plans to build a high-voltage transmission line through parts of Morris County by Jersey Central Power & Light, the latest in a series of projects aimed at enhancing the reliability of the power grid.
The seven-mile transmission line, running through Parsippany, Montville and East Hanover won approval from the New Jersey Board of Utilities. When originally proposed, the project was estimated to cost $35 million, according to the utility.
JCP&L and other utilities are being pressed to modernize an aging power grid by state regulators and operators of the regional power grid, PJM Interconnection.
The Morris project, however, faced minimal opposition, compared to other projects undertaken in other areas of the New Jersey Highlands, or the controversy enveloping JCP&L’s proposed 10-mile Monmouth County Reliability Line. The latter project is before an administrative law court judge.
“JCP&L is pleased that the Board of Public Utilities unanimously approved the Montville-Whippany Reinforcement project,’’ said Ron Morano, a spokesman for the state’s second-largest electric utility. “Significant infrastructure investments such as this enable JCP&L to deliver the safe and reliable service our customers deserve and expect.’’
Utilities have embraced proposals to build transmission projects in recent years, earning far more than on investments in maintaining their distribution system — the poles and wires delivering electricity to homes and businesses.
At the same time, however, the projects have come under increasing criticism from local communities and environmentalists, in part because of a declining growth in electricity load.
The new project, which follows along an existing power line, is expected to begin construction in the first quarter of 2018, according to Morano. The project was part of a $200 million, multiyear program of transmission upgrades planned by JCP&L, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy of Akron, OH.
JCP&L has been the target of much regulatory scrutiny from the state in recent years, largely over repeated power outages and criticism that it was not investing enough to maintain its power grid.