On appeal from a Final Decision of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Docket No. EO09010010.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued January 11, 2011 --
Decided Before Judges Parrillo, Yannotti and Espinosa.
Appellant Friends of Fairmount Historic District (FFHD) appeals from a final determination of the Board of Public Utilities (Board), which authorized the Jersey Central Power & Light Company (JCP&L) to proceed with the construction of a 230 kV/12.5 kV electrical substation in the Township of Tewksbury (Tewksbury or Township). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
JCP&L filed an application with Tewksbury's Land Use Board (TLUB) seeking preliminary and site plan approval and certain variances required for the construction of an electrical substation on Fox Hill Road in the Township. The TLUB conducted sixteen hearings on the matter, and at its meeting on December 3, 2008, denied the application. On February 18, 2009, the TLUB issued a resolution memorializing its decision.
On January 7, 2009, JCP&L filed a petition with the Board pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-19, seeking authorization to construct the substation, notwithstanding the TLUB's denial of its application. The Township filed an answer to the petition.
In addition, FFHD filed a motion with the Board seeking leave to intervene. On April 27, 2009, the Board granted FFHD's motion.
In support of its petition, JCP&L submitted pre-filed direct testimony of John Scopino (Scopino), its Supervisor of Engineering Services; and Thomas N. Walker (Walker), the company's Advanced Engineer and Project Lead. The Township submitted the direct testimony of Carl E. Hintz, a licensed professional planner, landscape architect and wetlands scientist, along with the transcripts and exhibits marked in the proceedings before the TLUB. JCP&L filed rebuttal testimony from Scopino, Walker and Kevin O'Brien (O'Brien), a licensed professional planner.
In May 2009, a member of the Board conducted a site visit of the proposed substation, which was attended by the attorneys and representatives of the parties. On June 15, 2009, a site report was issued, setting forth the observations made by the Board member during the site visit.
The Board conducted an evidentiary hearing in the matter on June 17, 2009. At the hearing, JCP&L presented testimony from Scopino, Walker, and O'Brien. The Township presented testimony from Hintz and Melanie A. Reese, a licensed professional engineer. On June 24, 2009, the Board conducted a public hearing on JCP&L's petition in Califon, New Jersey. On September 14, 2009, the Board issued a Decision and Order authorizing JCP&L to construct, install and operate the substation.
In its decision, the Board found that JCP&L had established by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed substation is necessary for the service, convenience and welfare of the greater public that the company serves. The Board noted that the number of residential customers in the area has increased by thirty percent from 1999 through 2006, and additional transformer capacity is required to alleviate the current existing overload of greater than twenty percent during peak loads at the Chester substation and to reduce the load at the Greater Crossroads substation.
The Board also noted that the proposed substation would improve system reliability because it would be directly beneath existing transmission lines. According to the Board, this eliminates the need for long lines and many steel poles, and a local power source reduces the length of distribution feeder conductors, which reduces the number and length of outages caused by external forces, such as lightning strikes and car/pole accidents.
The Board additionally noted that improved voltage support was required for areas in the Township, where JCP&L customers have experienced voltage below the company's tariff requirements. The Board pointed out that customers at the "far end of a circuit" have the lowest voltage at peak times, and the best solution to this problem is to have circuits of short to moderate lengths. The Board found that the installation of the substation would "improve existing voltage issues" in the Township.
The Board further found that JCP&L had shown that it made good faith efforts to find the most suitable location for the substation. The Board noted that the Township had denied a previous application to place the substation on Rockaway Road. Thereafter, JCP&L had ...