Goldmann, Kilkenny and Collester. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, J.A.D.
New Jersey Power & Light Company (hereinafter "company") appeals from so much of four judgments entered by the State Division of Tax Appeals, as affirmed assessments for local real estate tax purposes levied by the respondent municipalities against certain small concrete block buildings located on separate parcels of land, three in the Township of Denville and one in the Township of Rockaway. It contends that these buildings are not taxable by the respective muncipalities as "real estate" within the intendment of N.J.S.A. 54:30A-52. The municipalities cross-appeal from those portions of the judgments of the State Division of Tax Appeals, which held not subject to local taxation as real estate certain fences enclosing the properties in question.
Our Legislature has provided a comprehensive scheme for the taxation of certain public utilities by the terms of the Gross Receipts Tax Act, N.J.S.A. 54:30A-49 et seq. , and
intended that the taxation of these public utilities should be exclusively pursuant to the provisions of that act. Thus, N.J.S.A. 54:30A-51 provides:
"Street railway, traction, sewerage, water, gas and electric light, heat and power corporations using or occupying public streets, highways, roads or other public places, and their property and franchises, shall be subject to taxation only as in this act provided."
The company is admittedly a public utility within the meaning of the act.
The legal questions involved herein necessitate an interpretation of N.J.S.A. 54:30A-50 and 52. The latter section provides:
"All the real estate as herein defined, * * * owned or held by any taxpayer [the public utility] shall be assessed and taxed at local rates in the manner provided by law for the taxation of similar property owned by other corporations or individuals * * *." (Emphasis added)
N.J.S.A. 54:30A-50(b) defines "real estate" as follows:
"'Real estate' means lands and buildings, but it does not include railways, tracks, ties, lines, wires, cables, poles, pipes, conduits, bridges, viaducts, dams, * * * machinery, apparatus and equipment, notwithstanding any attachment thereof to lands or buildings."
The concrete block buildings in issue are located on lands owned by the company. These parcels are used by the company as electrical substations. Located thereon is a collection of equipment that is used for changing the characteristics of electric current and controlling the flow of electric power through such transmission or distribution systems. At each of the four substations involved in these proceedings, the apparatus which performs these functions consists of transformers, switches, meters, fuses or relays, circuit breakers, batteries and battery chargers. Some of ...