Transource wants transmission line applications consolidated, power of eminent domain

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
Attorney Anthony Kanagy, representing Transource Pennsylvania, LLC., addresses Administrative Law Judges Elizabeth Barnes and Andrew Calvelli as York County and Franklin County residents attend the prehearing conference for Transource transmission line applications resided over by  at the Commonwealth Keystone Building in the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo
  • The second prehearing conference is 10 a.m. in Hearing Room 1, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North St. in Harrisburg, according to the PUC.
  • Like the March prehearing conference, testimony will not be given at the July 9 prehearing conference also, said PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said.

Transource Energy is asking the state to consolidate its two applications into one case in order to  receive approval to construct new overhead power lines in Franklin and York counties, according to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.    

A prehearing conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, July 9, in Hearing Room 1, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North St. in Harrisburg, to discuss the matter, the PUC reports. Seating will be limited to 192 people, the PUC noted.

The market efficiency project, known as the Independence Energy Connection, has three applications pending approval before construction can begin: two in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland, according to Transource. 

PJM, the regional electric transmission grid operator, announced last year that it hired Transource to oversee the project.

Eminent domain: Along with the consolidation of the two applications, Transource is seeking the power of eminent domain, PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said. It filed 133 applications in Franklin and York counties, a state document confirms. 

Dozens of landowners in those counties who refused to allow land agents onto their properties to conduct research and studies were taken to court in May. Shortly after judges in both counties issued their rulings, Transource requested approval of eminent domain. 

York County Judge Richard K. Renn denied land agents' immediate access to 36 York County landowners' properties — except to conduct bog turtle studies.

“The problem with (Transouce Energy’s) case is that its route for the proposed electric line is just that, proposed,” Renn wrote. “Its final course may run over some of the defendants’ lands, all of their lands or none of their lands.”

The PUC, which has the final say on the matter, has not approved the proposed route, he wrote. 

More:Landowners will fight Transource at state level, not county

More:Judge: No extensive studies by Transource allowed on 36 landowners' properties

More:Landowners, lawmakers make case to stop Transource power line project

Transource Energy's proposed power line would run 16 miles from Lower Chanceford Township in York County to northern Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Transource)

Monday will be the second prehearing conference, Hagen-Frederiksen said. Like the March prehearing, no testimony will be given, he added. 

But individuals or organizations "that may not have intervened in the initial application case have the opportunity to raise objections to the new filings and have input into the procedural schedule that was set earlier this year," Hagen-Frederiksen explained.

They had until Friday, July 6, to file objections, he said. 

The state Office of Consumer Advocate plans to dispute the schedule, according to a PUC document. The consumer advocate's office said it needs more time — a requested 60-day extension — to gather intervenors' direct testimony.

The current July 25 deadline "denies  an adequate opportunity to present its case," according to the consumer advocate's office.   

Dolores Krick, a landowner who was taken to court, said landowners are still in "major opposition." Many of them in the Stop Transource in Pennsylvania and Maryland group will either show up to testify against eminent domain or listen to the prehearing conference via phone. 

"Consolidating will not help them win," Krick said. "Nothing they do surprises us, we expected them to join the cases."