Appeals court rejects challenge to proposed JCP&L power line

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of Jersey Central Power & Light's plans to build a new power line in Morris County, rejecting arguments by a local school board seeking to stop the plan because the line would pass close to a middle school.

The utility company, the second-largest in New Jersey with more than one million customers, wants to build a seven-mile, high-voltage line between its substations in Montville and East Hanover to add resiliency to its overall system, which has come under criticism in recent years due to repeated power outages.

Montville's board of education challenged the Board of Public Utilities' approval of the plan, arguing the line wasn't the best alternative available, could pose health risks to the nearby Robert R. Lazar Middle School and would limit potential expansion of the school.

The appeals court ruled Friday that JCP&L properly considered environmental considerations in choosing the route.

The line would be built mostly alongside JCP&L's existing lines, according to Friday's ruling. JCP&L said it considered building an underground line but that that would have cost at least four times as much and posed risks to wetlands.

The utility also presented experts who testified that effects from electric and magnetic fields and radio noise would be well below acceptable limits.

The school board, meanwhile, expressed concern about the potential health risks but didn't provide any experts to testify on that subject, the appeals court wrote Friday.

"The proposed route was the shortest of the alternatives, had the least environmental impact, and did not present the complications, environmental threats, and costs associated with putting a new transmission line underground, as proposed by BOE," the judges wrote.

An attorney representing the board of education didn't immediately comment on the ruling Friday.


This story has been corrected to show that the ruling was released Friday, not Thursday.