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MCRP Postscript

September 14, 2018 – As most of you know, JCP&L’s Monmouth County Reliability Project was a transmission project confirmed as “needed” by PJM, a regional transmission organization, to address a NERC P7 violation. So, it was not surprising that on the agenda for PJM’s Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee (“TEAC”) meeting yesterday (Sept. 13th) was an update for MCRP following the recent New Jersey BPU decision to deny JCP&L’s petition.

At the meeting, it was mentioned that PJM was in discussion with First Energy (JCP&L’s corporate parent) regarding a solution to address the P7 violation and will provide an update in the future. When asked didn’t RAGE provide a solution, PJM’s Vice President of Planning admitted that he was aware of the RAGE solution but needed to find it. Really???

At the legal hearing, PJM’s Mark Sims was a witness for JCP&L and testified that MCRP was needed. He was in attendance throughout the hearing and, in particular, was present for the testimonial of RAGE’s expert witness when he presented RAGE’s alternative solution. Now, PJM needs to find the RAGE alternative solution? How is important information like a fully developed and viable alternative that is 70% cheaper and not as invasive NOT be part of PJM’s update? Just because First Energy may not have presented it as a solution?

Another Eye Opener

Transource (a partnership between American Electric Power and Great Plains Energy) is trying to build a 45-mile long transmission project (“Independence Energy Connection”) in two segments between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Four members of a citizen group that is opposing the project decided to take a 4+ hour drive yesterday to attend the previously mentioned PJM TEAC meeting in order to hear discussion on “re-evaluation” of the project.

As part of RAGE’s opposition to MCRP, we learned quite a bit about the process and transmission projects. A lot of what learned caused us to scratch our head and wondered about the process and public interest. Despite this, the PJM meeting was still an eye opener. In the afternoon before the meeting, PJM released the analysis for the re-evaluation and indicated that there was a cost-benefit ratio of $1.42 (i.e., $1.42 of benefit for $1 in cost). However, questions raised during meeting clearly indicated that the analysis was missing critical and current data. Of particular note was the cost of the project was from 2015 and never updated. We know from our experience, the cost estimate for MCRP jumped from $22 million initially to $40 million in 2012, to $75 million in 2015 and then to $111 million in 2016. If this is any indication, how could PJM not get a more current estimate of the cost than one that was provided from 3 years ago? Keryn Newman (StopPath WV) posted a great blog with more details about the flawed analysis.

PJM, as a regional transmission operator for 13 states including New Jersey, has a very serious and weighty job in operating the electric grid in a reliable manner. However, it appears to be clear that the perspective from consumers and true public interest is sorely missing. PJM does not see the faces of communities that their actions are affecting. I’d encourage for those of you in PJM’s territory, to attend PJM meetings, especially the TEAC and Planning Committee meetings. It seems to be the only way to ensure that our interest is protected!

MCRP is dead but it is clear that a citizen group looking after our interest in the utility and energy sector in New Jersey is sorely needed. Please visit CHARGE’s website and Facebook page for updates. Please also donate. Every $20, $30, or $50 really helps CHARGE to get engaged on the important issues on our collective behalf.

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