As noted in the order, Exelon unit ACE in January 2016 filed a petition with the BPU seeking a determination that the Orchard-Lewis Transmission Project and all facilities involved in the project are reasonably necessary for the service, convenience, and welfare of the public.
ACE’s petition also sought these determinations:
· The ROWs and construction requirements currently in effect are to apply to the project notwithstanding any changes in ROW or construction requirements that the New Jersey BPU may promulgate between the date of approvals obtained and the date that the project lines are placed into service
· The Zoning and Land Use Ordinances and all regulations promulgated by the municipal entities and the counties are to have no application to the project, including substations
The BPU added that the petition further sought authorization to build and energize the proposed project and the facilities in a timely manner to permit the company to satisfy its obligation to continue to provide safe, adequate, and reliable service to its customers.
The project is an accelerated upgrade to the transmission line, which is more than 80 years old, consisting of new higher capacity double-circuited 230-kV and multiple 138-kV lines – plus an extension, the BPU said.
The transmission upgrade traverses through 10 municipal entities, the townships of Upper Pittsgrove, Pittsgrove, Franklin, Buena Vista, Hamilton, Weymouth, and Egg Harbor, the cities of Vineland and Estell Manor, and the Borough of Buena located in Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Atlantic counties along existing ACE right of way, the BPU said.
According to ACE’s petition, the PJM Interconnection Board of Managers in July 2014 approved a set of upgrades for the ACE transmission system that were determined to be necessary due to the continued delay, and possible cancellation, of the proposed repowering of the B.L. England generating plant in Beesley’s Point, N.J., or the retirement of said plant.
The BPU added in its order that those upgrades had previously been presented at an April 2014 Transmission Planning Advisory Committee meeting at PJM. PJM required ACE to complete the installation of those upgrades, the BPU noted.
According to the company, the need for the project was identified as a result of a September 2013 notification by RC Cape May Holdings that repowering of the plant was suspended, the BPU said, adding that that planned work would have included a connection of the plant to the ACE BL England 138-kV substation.
As a result of the suspended connection, the company contacted PJM to start mitigation of the “at risk” situation, and in early 2014, PJM identified multiple contingency transmission system overloads and contingency voltage violations starting in summer 2015 should the plant not be in service. The BPU added that the company then developed and submitted a plan to PJM to mitigate those negative effects on the system.
The company initially stated that the estimated total cost of the upgrades was $89.2 million, and later said that the cost estimate changed and was now $100.8 million, the BPU said.
The BPU noted that its July 26 order supersedes a June 30 BPU order, which inadvertently referred to the incorrect cost estimate for the upgrades.
The BPU also noted in its order that the matter was referred in January 2016 to the Office of Administrative Law and an administrative law judge on May 25 issued an initial decision.
The judge found that the project as proposed is reasonably necessary to provide safe, adequate, and reliable electric service in New Jersey, and that it is reasonably necessary for the service, convenience, and welfare of the public. The BPU added that the judge also found that ACE considered alternative routes for the project and that the project route, along an existing ROW, is reasonable considering the alternatives.
The BPU said that it accepts the judge’s findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The project envisioned within the company’s petition, the construction of two transmission lines, from the Upper Pittsgrove substation through Landing to the Lewis substation and from the Deepwater substation to the Lewis substation, will mitigate all thermal and violation issues, and allow the bulk electrical system to operate unimpeded, the BPU said.
Noting the estimated project cost of $100.8 million, the BPU said that it concludes that the costs are reasonable, based on the testimony and evidence concerning the expected costs of the project, as well as the other positive economic benefits the project will have on the economy.
As proposed to be designed and built, the project will minimize adverse impacts on the environment, and based upon the record, will not be adverse to the public health and welfare, the BPU said.