News

Franklin County Visitors Bureau opposes Transource power line

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Dec 5, 2017 2:24 PM
transom_protest_farmers_franklin.jpg

About 40 people lined up in front of farm equipment at Sunny Acres Farm on Fetterhoff Chapel Road, Mont Alto, to protest the proposed Transource power transmission line on Saturday, Oct. 14. (Photo: Amber South, Public Opinion)

(Chambersburg) --  A midstate group opposing the construction of a high-voltage transmission line through Franklin County has scheduled another rally.

People have been organizing to oppose the power line, whose wires and 13-story-tall towers would require a 130-foot wide right of way from Shippensburg to Ringgold, Md.

Stop Transource Franklin County is getting support from some local organizations. The Franklin County Visitors Bureau has joined the South Mountain Partnership in opposing the project. The non-profit visitors' bureau promotes travel and tourism in the county.

"Siting the Transource Independent Energy Connection Project through virgin view shed and agricultural production land will have a long-term and far-reaching negative impact on the entire tourism industry of Franklin County for perpetuity," visitors' bureau Executive Director Janet Pollard wrote to Transource. "The proposed chain of metal, high-voltage line towers is distinctly uninviting and counter to what attracts visitors to the beauty of the county."

Tourism and agriculture bring in more than $740 million a year to the county, according to Pollard. Ag tourism is the backbone of the county's fall tourism market.  

Transource Energy plans to construct the 27-mile power line though farmland east of Interstate 81. Before the end of the year Transource expects to send its project application to public utility commissions in Pennsylvania and Maryland Public Utility Commission, according to Transource spokeswoman Abby Foster.

"There has been some misinformation on impacts to farming," she said. "Transource understands the valuable role agriculture plays in this region, and our engineers worked to ensure typical farming practices in Franklin County, from crops to orchards, could continue within the 130-foot right-of-way."

The company awaits word on whether the Pennsylvania PUC will designate it as a utility. An administrative law judge has indicated that Transource qualifies to be a utility. A utility has specific powers, which include eminent domain.

Transource right-of-way agents are having good initial conversations with landowners on survey permissions and reviewing easement details, Foster said. The company is  committed to compensate fairly landowners for required easements, including compensation for potential impacts during construction.

transom_protest_franklin.jpg

Farmers are organizing in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, to oppose a Transource power transmission project. (Photo: File)

 

A meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 at Chambersburg Area Middle School South,
1151 E. McKinley St., is the latest event scheduled by opponents.

"We're doing it mainly to keep the public informed," said Lori Rife, a member of Stop Transource Franklin County. "We're just keeping people aware of the project. I don't want this project to go quiet for three months."

Keryn Newman of Sheperdstown, West Virginia, will talk about her experience successfully opposing the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH project).  Newman writes a blog about energy issues at StopPATH WV. She also will speak about other transmission projects that have been cancelled in recent years because of overwhelming opposition.

The Transource project has weaknesses -- such as a tight timeline and who will benefit, she said.  

" I plan to encourage the Transource opponents to use their particular talents and skills to think outside the box and find their niche in opposing the project," Newman said.

Rife said she hopes the meeting will sow doubt about the project and will help people understand why there is strong opposition to it.

"It amazes me how many people say they've never heard of this," Rife said. "It's a daily occurrence."

In October local farmers lined up tractors in a field to show the footprint of a single lattice tower. When Transource announced its final proposed route days later, Transource proposed monopoles, which have smaller footprints than lattice towers. The towers would be among the tallest structures in the county.

In September about 250 people attended a "Stop Transource" meeting in Quincy.

Transource's aim is to begin construction in 2019 with the line being operational by mid-2020.

PJM Interconnection, which directs the power grid in the mid-Atlantic states, contracted with Transource for the project. The line in Franklin County and another in York County would relieve congestion and give users, mainly in the Baltimore-Washington area, access to cheaper electricity from the west, according to PJM.

Transource is a partnership between American Electric Power (AEP) and Great Plains Energy. Three electric companies -- Dominion Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric and PEPCO -- will pay for more than three-fourths of the project.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »