Transource Energy goes to court for access to 36 York County properties

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
Landowners ask questions about their property, and how it will be affected by a preliminary proposal of an above-ground power line. Jana Benscoter/photo

Transource Energy filed motions Tuesday in York County court for the right to access 36 landowners' properties where Transource wants to build an overhead power line. 

On Jan. 23, the state Public Utility Commission granted Transource utility status. Transource is claiming that a state code allows them access onto private property to conduct surveys. 

Dozens of landowners in southern York County have refused to allow surveyors onto their land, according to court documents. 

Transource Energy is a partnership between American Electric Power and Great Plains Energy. It was hired by PJM Interconnection, the regional electric transmission grid operator, in June 2017 to construct the $320 million Independence Energy Connection. 

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

The company needs access to the properties in order to move forward with the project, according to Transource spokeswoman Abby Foster.

"Survey work is a critical next step in the siting process and provides Transource with information necessary in refining the route according to the specific characteristics of each property," Foster said. "This information will also assist in negotiating mutually beneficial terms for each easement required for the transmission line project."

According to the motions, Transource needs access to the properties "to obtain critical information, including various environmental studies."

More:State rep takes on power line agents who pressured residents

The studies, the motion explains, include wetland delineations, habitat assessments and threatened or endangered species surveys, geotechnical surveys, cultural resources surveys, civil surveys and all other surveys and tests necessary to properly assess the area, design and construction of the new line.

Transource disputes landowners' objections, saying surveyors are allowed “immediate access to conduct these surveys, appraisals and tests."

Landowners: New Park landowner Jay McGinnis said there is a solid group of property owners who are going to fight the project until the end. 

"When you have this many people upset, and politicians have come out for us, it shows me how the community is holding together in order to save itself from a horrendously intrusive project that's going to wreck the area," McGinnis said.

"This project is going to destroy the environment around it and the properties," he continued. "If they do win, they are going to have to go through eminent domain through everybody."

More:York County power line becomes issue in 28th Senate District race

The eastern segment of the project includes approximately 15.8 miles of new overhead electric transmission line that will connect a new substation in York County to an existing substation in Norrisville, Maryland.

Transource claims the more pressing issue is meeting the commonwealth’s requirement that the company survey for bog turtles, a federally threatened and state endangered species. Surveying will begin April 15 and end June 15, and it requires four separate surveys, with each survey separated by a period of three to six days depending on the month in which the survey is performed, the motion noted. 

Transource appreciates that many landowners have granted them access to conduct surveys, Foster said. 

"Transource and its representatives are committed to treating landowners and their properties with respect," Foster said. "While reaching a voluntary agreement with property owners is a high priority, it is imperative for Transource to continue through the phases of the project as the company seeks regulatory approvals. The approval of this filing will allow Transource to proceed with field work for those landowners who have not yet granted the company access.”