Perseverance – and Partnership – Pay Off

August 26, 2020

Sometimes, in addition to strong ownership, leadership and persistence, helpful partners are key to bringing a project to fruition.

The Martinsville substation construction project began with a need to meet load growth and add resiliency to the 34.5-kilovolt (kV) transmission system in JCP&L’s northern New Jersey territory. Along the way, Martinsville became part of our Energizing the Future transmission initiative. But one major issue persisted throughout the project’s planning stages – where to put it? There’s not much undeveloped land in that part of New Jersey.

“Siting was a big challenge. It had to be near our existing 34.5 kV lines, and we needed extra room to add more circuits for future expansion,” said Doug Wasser, a transmission project manager V, who became involved in the project in 2015.

“Many different properties were studied,” said John Anderson, vice president, External Affairs for JCP&L. “Finding a site that met all of the project’s requirements was tough.” After years of talking to many local developers, with External Affairs’ help, a 12-acre site was found in Warren Township, between our 34.5-kV transmission corridor and Interstate-78.

With the substation’s location finally determined, External Affairs helped negotiate a land swap with the township due to a conservation easement. Then, the group assisted in meeting additional requirements for the state’s Green Acres program protecting open spaces.

Once construction was ready to start in 2019, a seasonal restriction protecting an endangered bat species meant trees could not be cut for several months – until Oct. 1. A mild and wet winter brought new concerns related to the project’s soil erosion and sediment control permit. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which imposed a new set of preventive safety measures to protect workers’ health.

Under Doug’s direction, the project team navigated all those hurdles to place the Martinsville substation into service on June 4. Five years after he got involved, the completed substation is serving northern New Jersey as it was designed to do.

“No matter what came up, Doug showed unequivocal ownership and leadership by seeking collective solutions to get this complex project done and hit our in-service date,” said Jason Schuler, supervisor, Transmission Project Management.

John added: “This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through strong collaboration among Transmission Project Management, JCP&L External Affairs and state and local officials. This new substation further ensures that customers will enjoy reliable service, and it will help support the area’s economic development.”