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Power line plans shock people in York County into action

Written by Brett Sholtis/The York Daily Record | Aug 11, 2017 7:01 AM
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People gather outside Kennard-Dale High School during a community open house held by Ohio-based power company Transource. (Photo: Brett Sholtis, York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- Kim Carrick had no clue that a piece of unopened mail contained a plan to take part of her property in Fawn Township. 

"The notice I received about this project looked like junk mail, and I threw it away," Carrick said. After seeing a neighbor talking online about the project, she dug the mail out of the garbage to learn that Transource planned to put a "13-story" tower next to her house. 

Like others in York County, she was shocked. 

"I love my home, I love my neighborhood, and I love my community," Carrick said. "We would be under a power line monstrosity that would cut through our fields where we grow our crops."

Canton, Ohio-based Transource wants to build a high voltage power line that would carry electricity to Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia. To do that, it needs to build 135-foot tall, 30' wide towers about every 1,000 feet, Transource has said. 

It's a project that power grid company PJM Interconnection says is necessary to help move electricity more efficiently. It will also result in a $622 million benefit for the region's consumers in the first 15 years, said Abby Foster, a Transource spokeswoman.

However, for the people whose property lies in the power line's path, a possible reduction in their electric bills is hardly worth it. 

Suzanne Stoltenberg, of East Hopewell Township, has lived on a rural 134-acre property since the 1980s. Eventually the property was subdivided and sold to family members. The family land, which includes trout streams and a scenic overlook, is the result of decades of planning. A power line would ruin that.  

"This has been the most glorious, beautiful life--so bucolic," Stoltenberg said. "I raised my kids there. It's peaceful. There's wild life. There's--We pick wild berries. I don't want these massive power lines going across the front of my driveway."

Stoltenberg and Carrick each said the power line would also reduce property values.

"Why would a prospective home owner want to buy a house that has this issue when there are other properties that don't have this issue?" Carrick said.

Others expressed similar concerns while speaking with more than a dozen Transource employees at a public meeting at Kennard-Dale High School Thursday evening. Lower Chanceford Township resident Allen Walker said that the power line will have harm the property values in the power line's path for many years to come.

Walker has owned the property for 21 years and was banking on it to keep its value.

The company will pay property owners "market rate" for the land they access, Foster said. If the Pennsylvania Utility Commission grants Transource's application, the company will also have rights of eminent domain. 

For Nina Meckel, no amount of money would be enough. Meckel said she moved from Baltimore to a horse farm near Fawn Township, where she has raised competition horses for decades. A power line -- which she said could lead to stray bursts of electricity -- would wreak havoc on her horses.  

 

Some have taken to signed a petition, or joined a Facebook group set up to protest. 

Stoltenberg has her own plan. "My lawyer was here with me tonight, because they're going to have a big legal fight if they want to put that across there," she said. 

For those with outstanding questions, Transource's application to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will help to explain why the power line is needed and how it will benefit consumers, Foster said. Transource hopes to file that application before the end of the year.  

To be clear, the route isn't set in stone yet, Foster said. Transource has had six community forums to hear from residents and "refine" its planned route, Foster said. "Rather than presenting a proposed route to the community, we're going to the community so that we can plan a route."

Transource will decide on the line's exact path by fall, Foster said. Then it will notify those affected and will update its maps online. 

 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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