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Opponents to power line in Franklin Co. organize fight at the PUC

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Jan 20, 2018 3:51 PM
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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)

(Quincy) - A group opposing the construction of a high-voltage power line through Franklin County is organizing a letter-writing campaign.

Stop Transource Franklin County is hosting a session to help people write letters of concern and protest to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The session will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Quincy Community Center, 8089 Anthony Highway, Waynesboro.

Transource Energy plans to build two 230kV transmission lines - one in eastern Franklin County and another in southern York County. Area residents have been organizing to stop the project that would transmit cheaper electricity mainly to the Washington-Baltimore region.

Meanwhile regarding the route through York County, a state representative has cautioned Transource about the "reckless actions" by its land services agent.

According to a Stop Transource press release, "if you, or someone you know, wants to write a letter, but is not sure where to begin, we can help you." Facilitators can explain the process of commenting and can help with the several categories of protesting.

The PUC has assigned the Franklin County route the docket number A-2017-2640200. Comments can be submitted through Feb. 20.

For a fact sheet about submitting comments or intervening, visit http://www.puc.pa.gov/utility_industry/electricity/transmission_lines.aspx.

Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-Jacobus, said landowners in York County have contacted her about harassment and coercion from Transource's contracted land services agent, Western Land Services.  She urged Transource to apologize to affected landowners.

Transource has been acting as if it has all necessary certifications to conduct land surveys, she said. Transource has PUC approval to act as a utility, but has yet to acquire all certifications to operate as one.

Transource on Wednesday acknowledged that there had been some confusion about accessing properties for surveying following PUC's approval.

The company told Public Opinion in response to Hill's letter:

"We hope to conduct all the field work necessary for the siting of the project in cooperation with landowners, and are taking steps to clarify any misunderstanding about the timing of that process, including any situation in which the survey work has to be conducted absent the agreement of a landowner. 

"Any field work that has to be done without a voluntary agreement will only be conducted as necessary, and after the Commission issues its official order granting Transource Pennsylvania utility status and other legal requirements are met. 

"Additionally, Transource and all contractors and employees representing Transource are committed to and are expected to treat all individuals within communities with respect and honesty. We will look into this specific issue and will address based on our findings."

Hill said wrote to her constituents after receiving a response from Transource: "They fully acknowledge that they proceeded without appropriate authority. They will proceed only when they have received the appropriate certification from the state and give 10-day notice before accessing private property."

The western Transource line would run 29 miles across the Franklin County countryside from Shippensburg to Ringgold, Maryland. Support towers would be 13-stories tall. The line will require rights of way from private property owners.

The route application addresses environmental impacts, existing land use and impacts on scenic, historic and archeological sites as well as affected landowners, safety and the need for the line.

PJM Interconnect, which manages the electrical grid in 13 Mid-Atlantic states, hired Transource to do the project. Transource is a partnership between American Electric Power and Great Plains Energy.

PJM expects the $320 million Independence Energy Connection project to save ratepayers $622 million in 15 years. 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

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