The Monmouth County Reliability Project is the given name to a rather controversial proposed plan to build 210 foot high power lines along the New Jersey Transit railroad tracks from Red Bank to Aberdeen, a distance of about 12 miles. The power lines would run through the backyards of residents from several towns in Red Bank, Middletown, Holmdel and Hazlet.
The concern of the residents is the effect that these enormous towers and power lines will have on property values as well as safety, should the lines become dislodged or downed by high winds.
The mayors of certain local towns have come forward in support of the plan in recent days. The local news sources reported that the utility company involved in this project, Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), has reviewed several different areas and pathways for these types of power lines before determining this current path along the NJ Transit rail line.
The project is seen as a necessary system improvement to energy delivery systems in order to curtail the major outages of electric power such as with Hurricane Sandy. The matter is currently before a judge who will rule on whether or not this project will move forward at a hearing in the near future.
The impact of these large scale power lines and towers to the environment is not documented but the educated guess would be that there must be some detrimental effect to having that much electrical current being pushed through a twelve mile span.
Many area residents have joined into a group known as R.A.G.E. which has been rather vocal in their opposition to this proposal from JCP&L with demonstrations, lawn signs, and bumper stickers to unify their message.
The area proposed for these power lines and their gigantic towers is a densely populated residential area filled with families. The general sentiment of the residents is that they pay a significant amount in property taxes and that these lines could be built in an area that is less densely populated.
The impact on the property values of these homes is most certainly going to be decidedly negative. It reminds me of the intense scrutiny given to the high tension power lines in Toms River which created notorious “cancer clusters” and residents here have similar concerns.
The irony here is that the power company and the municipal governments keep referring to this project as a way to safeguard and improve the electrical energy supply during inclement weather or natural disasters. However, a storm of an event in the magnitude of a Hurricane Sandy could damage or destroy one or more of these towers and damage the power lines resulting in service disruptions.
The area is so densely populated that it could be a significant public safety risk if something were to go wrong with the performance of these towers and lines.
The final public meeting on this matter will be held tomorrow night at 7 PM at Middletown North High School and the judge for the upcoming hearing on this important decision will be present. The time for you to voice your opinion is now, the stakes are high and the clock is ticking.