Landowners, lawmakers make case to stop Transource power line project

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
Residents possibly affected by a power line project had their say at a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission public input hearing. (Jana Benscoter/photo)

Michal Ann Boyd needed a few seconds to regain her composure Wednesday when she testified at a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission hearing regarding a high-voltage power line that could be constructed in southern York County. 

The PUC is investigating the merit of and need for the $320 million market efficiency project, known as the "Independence Energy Connection" project. Part of the process is to hear from residents directly affected by it. 

Two of the four scheduled public input hearings in York County, the eastern part of the project, were held Wednesday. Franklin County will have four hearings, too. 

Boyd, 33, of New Park, who recently moved back to the area, said she and her husband wanted their three daughters to grow up in a beautiful and clean place.  

Three years ago, she explained, her husband was diagnosed with leukemia. 

"Since then we've done our very best to minimize all cancer risks to our family," Boyd said. 

Several southern York County residents who could be affected by an overhead power line showed up to testify at a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission public input hearing Wednesday. (Jana Benscoter/photo)

The resources Transource has cited, she continued, reveal the energy company is "unable to conclude that these power lines" will be "safe for our families, our communities and surrounding vegetation and wildlife." 

PJM Interconnection, the regional grid transmission operator, hired Transource Energy last year to design and construct the project. Transource is a Pennsylvania public utility.

Transource representatives were at the hearings but did not testify. 

State Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said the project doesn't show that it will provide "long-term, significant benefits to our local Pennsylvania communities economically, nor preserve our tremendous agrarian heritage and scenic beauty."

She said, "York County is proud of its strong preservation heritage with nearly 42,000 acres and 282 farms."

Phillips-Hill said the question of why two existing high-voltage power transmission lines that run parallel to the proposed route and are not operating at full capacity aren't being utilized hasn't been satisfactorily answered.  

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The proposed route, she said, is supposed to supplement the existing power lines, not replace them.

Phillips-Hill emphasized the state constitution provides people "a right to clean air, pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment."

State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said at a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission public input hearing that he does not support a proposed power line project in southern York County. (Jana Benscoter/photo)

State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, supported Phillips-Hill's comments. He asked that citizens' deep concerns to preserve the "beauty" of southern York County be taken seriously. 

PUC deputy press secretary David Hixon said there are several more steps that need to occur before a decision is rendered, including evidentiary hearings that will be held later this year. 

The next York County public input hearings are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, May 14, at Airville Volunteer Fire Co., 3576 Delta Road. 

Transource's proposed timeline is to have the project up and running by 2020.