UPDATE: Day 9 of OAL Evidentiary Hearings -- 7/7/17

OAL Hearing Is Officially Over!

Today was the last day of the OAL Hearing for MCRP. JCP&L called their two witnesses, Lawrence Hozempa and Mark Sims (PJM) for oral “rebuttal” against RAGE’s expert witness Jeff Palermo’s last testimony and allowed cross examination by all the intervenors. The short version is that JCP&L continued to prove that “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Through the cross examinations by RAGE & Joint Municipal Group, it seems to be clear that all JCP&L wanted was a new 230kV transmission line and did everything they could to try to discredit any viable alternative (such as the one put forth in credible details by our expert Palermo).

RAGE attorney was prepared to spend a lot time drawing out, among other things, the fact that JCP&L did not do the needed analysis for other alternatives and that the Rejoinder Report filed by JCP&L consists of significantly inflated budget and overstated the amount of work needed for the alternative. Judge Cookson and all parties involved really wanted to conclude the hearing today. Not unexpected, the hearing did not conclude with a “bang” like at the end of a Perry Mason case. In cross examination, the Judge sustained a number of objections by JCP&L’s attorney and didn’t give a lot of leeway to draw out certain things. The good news was that it appears that the Judge already "got” the points that RAGE attorney wanted to make and didn’t want (or need) to waste the time to get there. Specifically, JCP&L wasn’t interested and didn’t seriously considered alternatives (didn’t do any of the necessary analysis until ‘forced” to) and the only “solution” that they offered/want to address the P7 violation was the highly invasive new 230 kV transmission line. I won’t bore everybody with all the discussions regarding load forecast, power flow study, dynamic studies, cascading analysis, emergency thermal ratings, and reconductoring at the hearing.

The formal hearing is now over. However, a lot of legal work remains. Attorneys have to file their schedule of all the exhibits and evidence that were submitted for the record. In addition, attorneys will have until Sept. 1st to submit their briefs. They then have until Sept. 25th for any responses to everything that has been submitted.

Judge Cookson will then have 45 days after that to make her recommendation and send the petition back to BPU. She indicated that she doesn’t expect to need an extension for that. If this schedule holds, this means that her recommendation should come out on or about November 10th. The 2017 Election is on Nov. 8th. This means that we should also know who the new Governor for NJ is at around the same time. BPU will likely be receiving Judge Cookson’s recommendation during the lame duck period and it will be interesting to see what happens next. It is possible that things may be quiet until after January 2018 but, obviously, we will be vigilant.

We sincerely believe that this project could have been easily rubber-stamped and approved had we not got involved. However, the support from our elected officials, your overwhelming support at the two public hearings and all your contributions for our legal fund has kept us going so far. It is not over yet and there is still a long road ahead. However, we have come a long way since May 2016 when MCRP was first announced and we want to say THANK YOU to everybody for getting us to this stage!

Kin K. Gee

Here is the link to donate to the "Keep Kicking JCP&L's Butt" Fund: http://smarturl.it/RAGEdonate