MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A controversial proposal would put electric transmission lines behind homes in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the residents of the homes were expected to attend a public hearing Wednesday night to protest the plan. They have mounted protest signs reading, “no monster power lines over the tracks,” with the name “R.A.G.E.,” or “Residents Against Giant Electric.”

Judy Musa is fighting against the proposal, which would run high-voltage power lines along the railroad tracks adjacent to her backyard in Middletown.

“Who would want them?” Musa said. “They’re usually transmission lines to transmit power place to place usually, or put in places where people do not live like among the turnpike or swaths of land. This is too narrow — only 100 feet wide.”

Tara McGrath’s house sits close to the tracks. Jersey Central Power & Light is still negotiating with NJ TRANSIT about the transmission line idea.

“The World Health Organization does label them carcinogenic, so why take a chance and put it in this close of a vicinity to schools, homes, playgrounds, parks?” McGrath said.

The $111 million, 10-mile Monmouth County Reliability Project would cut through residential areas in Holmdel, Hazlet, and Middletown, connecting substations in Red Bank and Aberdeen. It would use 200-foot poles, while the ones in place now are only 30 feet.

Big crowds were expected to show up at Middletown High School North for the hearing on the power lines. It was their once chance to speak their minds in front of a judge.

The judge will then decide whether to recommend to the state Board of Public Utilities that the project go forward, be modified, or shot down.

Joseph Curto worried if the project goes through, he will not be able to sell his home and move.

“Once they’re notified that it’s near the train tracks, they say, ‘Show me something else,’” Curto said.

But JCP&L said the project is mandatory and required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to modernize the electrical grid and improve service reliability.

“Not having this project done opens the system up to a vulnerability,” said project manager Scott Humphrys.

But over the past 20 years, there have been only two outages lasting just a few hours. The towns did not even lose power during Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Irene.

The Division of Rate Counsel notes that there is less of a demand for electricity now than there was when the Reliability Project was proposed in 2011.

The hearing began at 7 p.m.


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