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Transource Energy PUC prehearing conference set for Tuesday
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 Public Utility Commission conference, slated for Tuesday, March 13, aims to set the stage for a series of hearings in which commissioners will decide whether to grant Transource Energy approval to construct a 230 kV transmission line in southern York County.
The purpose of the conference is to discuss preliminary matters, including the scheduling of future public input hearings and other procedural matters, according to the PUC. Only attorneys and individuals representing themselves as parties to the proposal can participate in the conference.
No testimony will be taken at the pre-hearing conference, the PUC reports.
Debbie Macklin, who is one of 36 landowners being taken to court by Transource for not allowing land surveyors on her farm, said she and others are finalizing their plans to have legal representation present.
“We have a bus coming from the east project side and the west project side,” Macklin said. “This is our livelihood. We have to make it known that this is our passion.”
The two Pennsylvania segments of the Independence Energy Connection project are in Franklin County, the west side of the project, and York County, considered to be the east side of the project.
Macklin said her family purchased 110 acres last year in Lower Chanceford Township and is willing to fight for its protection.
“Not long after we purchased it, we found out we were on the route,” Macklin said. “It’s just disheartening. We took this investment, jumped into this project, and we have limitations now that weren't there before.”
The York County Planning Commission also will have an attorney at the conference, director Felicia Dell confirmed.
Individual testimony at public input hearings will be scheduled and held in York and Franklin counties, the PUC reports. Those hearings are expected to be held in May.
David Hixson, PUC spokesman, said of the prehearing conference, “the parties come together with the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge and set the litigation schedule and go over logistics for the proceeding, including dates for any public input hearings that will be held in the area.”
The conference will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13, in Hearing Room 1 in the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North St., in the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg, according to the PUC.
Abby Foster, spokeswoman for Transource, said three applications were submitted for approval of the $320 million Independence Energy Connection. The two applications in Pennsylvania are for the Franklin County and York County segments. The other application is in Maryland, and they are necessary for construction of the project.
The PUC will consider each segment's final proposed route to address the problems on the high-voltage grid that were identified by PJM Interconnection, Foster explained. The maps were designed based on landowners comments and concerns. PUC commissioners also will evaluate why Transource selected the final proposed map versus two previous maps, Foster added.
The east segment of the project includes about 16 miles of new overhead electric transmission lines that will connect a new substation in Lower Chanceford Township to the existing Conastone Substation, near Norrisville in Harford County, Maryland.
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 power line.
Construction is expected to begin in 2019, with the line being operational by mid-2020, Transource Energy officials said.