Residents meet with Transource Energy representatives during an open house at Kennard-Dale High School.
Before officially writing a list of their project concerns on a form, Mike Long and his wife, Carole, exchanged unconvinced glances. They said the Transource Energy project being pitched to them is neither needed nor wanted.
Transource Energy, which was hired to construct a new high-voltage power line in southern York County, held an open house Thursday, Aug. 10, at Kennard-Dale High School. More than 220 residents, most of them part of "Stop Transource in Pennsylvania and Maryland," attended to ask questions and provide input on the direction of the project.
Carole Long, 63, emphasized that she felt her questions remained unanswered.
"The electricity isn't going to benefit us here," her 66-year-old husband added. The Longs live in Hopewell Township, where they have horses on their land.
The project: Transource Energy Project Director Todd Burns said the new above-ground transmission power lines provide a "regional benefit." The energy company estimates ratepayers will save more than $600 million over 15 years, and it will alleviate an energy "bottleneck."
Burns explained that, while the project is expected to lower energy costs, he cannot firmly say the new power lines will lower overall electricity bills. There could be new mandated electricity regulations or maintenance improvements needed, the costs of which utility companies could pass along to consumers, he said.
Also, if the project is abandoned, he said, the cost of what has been accomplished would most likely be passed along to area ratepayers as well.
Transource Energy is a partnership between American Electric Power and Great Plains Energy. They were hired by PJM Interconnection, the regional electric transmission grid operator, to construct the $320 million Independence Energy Connection.
East segment: York County is in the east segment of the project, which includes approximately 15 miles of new overhead electric transmission line. The line will connect a new substation to the existing Conastone Substation near Norrisville in Harford County, Maryland.
Burns said Transource's approach is to include all input from landowners and concerned residents. In the past, he said, projects like this would have gone forward without caring about historical and cultural preservation, which are two of several factors Transource officials said they are taking into consideration.
The second map removed a lot of the study segments, or areas where a landowner would be directly impacted by the project.
Next step: The next steps forward include data entry of all comments collected at the second open house and then revising the map again before submitting a final proposed route to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, said Transource spokeswoman Abby Foster.
Speaking on behalf of the "Stop Transource in Pennsylvania and Maryland" group, 44-year-old Frank Ayd said his research on the project hasn't been reassuring. Videos posted on the power company's website detail the negative impact lines such as these can have on farmers.
The East Hopewell Township resident said the videos explained how "stray voltage can shock horses and cattle and how electromagnetic waves are known to cause problems in dairy cattle."
"That's a huge problem in this area, where there is a lot of dairy production," Ayd said.
The group opposing the project has been steadily growing in number, and many believe they can stop Transource from building the new above-ground power lines, Ayd said.
The York County Farm Bureau will host an invite-only meeting to discuss the status of the pending project on Thursday, Aug. 24.