County planner: Power line project could shift out of southern York

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch

A controversial proposal to build a new high-voltage power line between Maryland and Pennsylvania might not affect York County after all.

York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell and her staff told the commissioners at their monthly meeting Sept. 19 that there's a chance the project could "shift" to another location.

She said electric wholesaler PJM Interconnection, which has contracted with Transource Energy to build the $320 million Independence Energy Connection project, could hire a new contractor or hire additional contractors. 

Dell said PJM representatives told her "the project might be altered" and that PJM is "accepting proposals for some aspect" of the energy project.

Dell could not provide more details, she said.

Many of the study segments initially presented have been removed and Transource is soliciting input on the refined preliminary alternative routes, shown here, prior to determining a proposed route to file with state regulators.

PJM didn't clarify how many proposals it has received for that new "aspect," she said, or whether Transource Energy submitted a proposal. 

According to PJM, the new transmission line is needed to alleviate an electric "bottleneck" in the mid-Atlantic region, which would reduce the cost of electricity for ratepayers. 

New Park farmer Jay McGinnis's property, where a new, proposed high-voltage overhead transmission line could be constructed. Thursday, July 6, 2017.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Transource told the York County Planning Commission earlier this year that 15 miles of the project could affect residents in Hopewell, East Hopewell, Fawn and Lower Chanceford townships, Dell has said. 

Transource held two open houses in York County — one in June and one in August — to hear comments from residents and answer their questions. The company revised its proposed route for the power line after the first meeting with residents.

Farmers, landowners and residents have organized to oppose the project, and the group Stop Transource in Pennsylvania and Maryland has hired a public-relations specialist to assist the effort.

The county planners also are concerned about the "impact the high-voltage power line and associated right of way could have on land use in the county," Dell has said. 

“The southeastern portion of the county has some of the best contiguous acreages of prime agricultural soils and preserved farms," she explained. "It also includes unique features and game lands.”

Transource Energy spokeswoman Abby Foster said Wednesday, Sept. 20, that there was confusion between PJM and Dell. 

"The (Independence) Energy Connection is part of PJM's 9A Market Efficiency project and the window for bids on that project closed with the project being awarded to Transource in 2016," Foster said. 

Foster, who was not at the PJM meeting with Dell, said she anticipates Transource officials will wrap up the final, proposed transmission route in October.

Asked about possible confusion, Dell stood by her remarks to the planning commission Sept. 19 and added that her staff is working with PJM to clarify the project's location.

The final proposal will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission before the end of the year, and it could be submitted as soon as October, Foster said.