Transource Energy takes 24 Franklin County property owners to court

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Mar 6, 2018 10:50 AM

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) -- Transource Energy is asking the court to allow its representatives to enter 24 Franklin County properties.

Transource is planning to build a high-voltage transmission line from Shippensburg to Ringgold, Md.

"Transource Pennsylvania has no way to enter the property without risking confrontation," according to the company's filing in Franklin County Court. "Transource Pennsylvania has no choice but to proceed with its motion for immediate right of entry."

As a utility designated by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, Transource has the authority of eminent domain and has "the right to enter any land or improvement in order to make studies, surveys and tests," according to the filing.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission plans to schedule public hearings in May in Franklin and York counties where people can present testimony.

Landowners have become increasingly organized in opposing the 29-mile power line that will be strung on 13-story tall monopoles. More than 50 people have written letters protesting the project.

Ernie Basham, the supervising right of way agent for Western Land Services, said in the court filing that landowners gave Transource permission to access 70 percent of the properties on the proposed route.

An image showing a typical double-circuit steel monopole, which is the structure type Transource plans to use for the construction of its proposed transmission lines. (Photo: Courtesy)


Transource filed 24 separate cases against the 24 owners of properties that stretch from north of Chambersburg to the Maryland line. Chambersburg Mall Realty LLC, Patriot Federal Credit Union in Chambersburg and the Owls Club Inc. in Waynesboro are among them.

Transource has taken similar legal action against 36 property owners in southern York County.

The line through Franklin County is the western section of the Independence Energy Connection. A line in southern York County and northern Hartford County, Maryland, is also part of a project that is to provide cheaper electricity, mainly to consumers in the Baltimore-Washington metro area.

Transource needs to access the properties soon, according to court papers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission require the company to survey for bog turtles, a critically endangered species, between April 15 and June 15.  A property is subject to four surveys, each lasting 3 to 6 days.

Hitting the window is crucial to the project. Transource expects to start construction in 2019.

The PUC has started to review the Transource project. A prehearing conference has been set for March 13 in Harrisburg. No testimony will be taken, according to a PUC statement. The scheduling of future public input hearings and other procedural matters will be discussed. Only attorneys and those individuals representing themselves as parties can actively participate in this conference.

The hearing room has a seating capacity of 192. Priority will be given to parties to the case, including individuals who have filed protests or petitions to intervene in the proceedings. If attendance exceeds the capacity of the hearing room, the presiding judges may divide the hearing into two conferences, held back-to-back -- one for the York County project and another for the Franklin County project -- to accommodate as many interested parties as possible.


According to the PUC: "There will be future opportunities for individuals to testify at public input hearings, which will be scheduled and held in York and Franklin counties. Those hearings are expected to be held during May 2018, and will be publicized in advance, include official notices published in local newspapers two weeks prior to the hearing dates."

The prehearing conference will be held at 10 a.m. on March 13 in Hearing Room 1, located in the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, in the PA State Capitol Complex, in Harrisburg.

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

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