Southern York landowners await electricity transmission line proposal
Jay McGinnis, a New Park farmer, talks about his decision to fight Transource as they plan to build new electric transmission lines in southern York County
A handful of southern York County landowners will soon find out if their properties will be affected by a proposed above-ground electricity transmission line.
The $320 million project — announced June 1 — is expected to increase consumer access to more affordable power in the mid-Atlantic region, according to PJM Interconnection, the nation's largest regional power grid that manages electricity. PJM estimates the project will save homeowners $600 million in electric bills over 15 years.
The Independence Energy Connection, centered in Pennsylvania and Maryland, is anticipated to be a three-year project, Transource project director Todd Burns said.
Right-of-way acquisition and permitting and regulatory approval are slated for 2018. Construction is projected to start in 2019, and the project's end date is summer 2020.
PJM awarded Transource Energy the construction bid in August 2016. According to a Pennsylvania Utilities Commission document, Transource has filed an application for approval to become a public utility in Pennsylvania, but it has not submitted a formal route proposal.
“At this point, we don’t have a path for the line," Burns said. “We are trying to work with people and gather input before we make decisions.”
Feedback from any affected or unaffected landowners is being accepted at open houses and online, as well as via mail and telephone, he said.
An open house at Chanceford Community Center in Brogue in June attracted an estimated 120 people, Transource community affairs representative Abby Foster said. Transource is hosting another open house in August. The date, time and location have not been determined yet, she added.
Abby Foster, community relations representative for Transource Energy, outlines the community input and planning stages of a new electric transmission line in southern York County
Included in the plan, a Transource document shows, is up to 15 miles of new overhead electric transmission lines that will connect a new substation constructed in southern York County to the existing Conastone Substation near Norrisville in Harford County, Maryland.
Towers are estimated at 135 feet tall with 30-by-30-foot bases and 130-foot right-of-ways, Foster said. Transource is anticipating using six towers per mile, spanning 1,000 feet, but that might vary along the route, she explained.
"We won't know how many total structures until a route is proposed," Foster said
Building the new transmission line would rid the area of an “electrical bottleneck,” Burns explained, “much like a new highway would relieve traffic.”
Opponents: Since the first open house, a group of landowners who oppose the project has started a group — “Stop Transource in Pennsylvania and Maryland” — on Facebook.
Jay McGinnis, of Fawn Township, said he's not backing down without a fight. If the project proceeds based upon a map shown to residents in June, he said, his property is directly affected.
And the only way, he said, Transource is going to take his land for public use is going to have to be through eminent domain.
Transource's policy is to talk to individual landowners to arrive at an agreed financial amount for use of their land, according to Foster.
Burns wouldn't comment on any specific changes that have been made to the map to date, but he said Transource has been "very inclusive" and he "really appreciates the public's involvement."
"We're looking forward to bringing back out to the public a preliminary, potential route that will reflect comments we've received," Burns said.