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Southern York landowners await electricity transmission line proposal

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
  • The $320 million project, identified by PMJ Interconnection to alleviate electric congestion for mid-Atlantic consumers, is estimated to save $600 million in electric bills over 15 years.
  • The lines will connect to two existing 500-kilovolt transmission lines in Pennsylvania and provide two new additional pathways for electricity to alleviate electric gridlock.

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.

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. 

Plans to develop the Independence Energy Connection (IEC), a new overhead electric transmission project in Chanceford Township, extending down into Maryland, is speculated to increase consumer access to more
affordable power in the region. Transource/photo

"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.

New Park farmer Jay McGinnis is planning to fight to keep proposed electric transmission lines from "ruining" his farm, Thursday, July 6, 2017.  John A. Pavoncello photo

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.