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Camp Evans, Surrounding Facilities, Without Power For Months

Only a glimmer of hope for a solution to the former Army Camp's power problem

The InfoAge Science Museum at Camp Evans has been without power for months and an opening date may not be in the near future, the Township Committee reported Wednesday.

During Hurricane Sandy, power to Camp Evans flickered on and off, just as others in the area. But the former Army camp is not reliant on the local power grid. Rather, its power comes from long-dated Army transformers, which were weakened by fluctuations in power during the storm. 

They finally gave out shortly after Christmas, Township Committeeman George Newberry said.

The transformers move power throughout the camp and to some surrounding buildings along Marconi Road, which have also gone dark.

Holger E. Skurbe, president of the Ocean-Monmouth Amateur Radio Club at 2300 Marconi Road, said the group’s facility has been dark since Dec. 26.

The club, in addition to offering free emergency communications to the township, maintains the Project Diana satallite dish. 

Skurbe attended Wednesday’s Township Committee meeting to ask for information on when, or if, power would be restored to the area and to the camp.  

“We’re totally in the dark here and the pun is intended,’’ Skurbe said.  

Newberry offered only a glimmer of hope to restore power to the camp and its surrounding buildings.  

Buying a replacement for the transformer that blew was out of the question, he said, calling the cost “prohibitive.’’ He was not more specific.   Newberry also said that JCP&L was “not interested in assisting,” with the Camp Evans power problem.  

Princeton University, however, is interested in selling InfoAge a transformer for $1, with the condition that the museum sells it back to the college for $1 when it is finished using it, Newberry said.  

“Basically, they don’t want to loan it to us in case something goes wrong,’’ Newberry said.  

The transformer, which is smaller than the one it would replace, is being evaluated for fit at InfoAge. While the replacement may be smaller, the electrical demands of InfoAge are not as large as the Army’s needs were when the original was installed, according to Newberry.  

The township on Wednesday delivered a loaner generator to help power some of the main InfoAge buildings. The loan is for 90 days, Newberry said.

The loaner generator likely will not help the surrounding properties still in the dark, however. Those sites, like that occupied by the radio club, run off feeder transformers with power lines that run under Marconi Road, Newberry said.   The township is trying to work with JCP&L to establish some semblence of regular, civilian, power grid to the area. But that’s a slow process, Newberry said.  

“That’s not going to happen anytime soon,’’ he said.  

The best bet for surrounding buildings, Newberry said, is the transformer deal with Princeton, which may take another six weeks.

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