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State judge: Transource project would be 'detrimental' to economy, environment

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A controversial power line project should be rejected because it serves little purpose and would have “detrimental” economic and environmental effects for nearby land owners, a Public Utility Commission mediator recently concluded.

The $372 million project, headed by Transource Energy, would develop 16 miles of new transmission lines in Pennsylvania and Maryland, including in a portion of York County.

Elizabeth Barnes, an administrative law judge for the state PUC, made the recommendation Dec. 23 in a 153-page report that Transource’s proposal be rejected.

“The applicant has failed to show need for the project within the meaning of commission regulations and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code,” wrote Barnes. “Further, the project will have detrimental economic and environmental impacts.”

According to the PUC website, its Office of Administrative Law Judge  provides conflict resolution by independent administrative law judges. In contested matters before the PUC, judges gather facts and prepare written decisions outlining the issues before recommending resolutions.

Transource has argued the need for the project to reinforce the electric grid, address reliability issues and reduce energy prices in the region, according to Todd Burns, director of Transource Energy.

“We are disappointed with the Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation, and we will continue to pursue the regulatory steps in Pennsylvania to obtain approval for the project," Burns said in a statement. 

Participating parties have 20 days to file objections to Barnes' conclusions.

Following that response period, there will be a 10-day period for comments from the project's opponents to respond to any objections. 

"After that clock has run, the case gets officially transferred over to the commissioners for their evaluation and consideration," PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said. "There is no specific timetable on that."

This map shows the new proposed route for the Transource Energy powerline.

Though it only will take 30 days for the case to be moved to the commissioners, Hagen-Frederiksen said it could take additional time for the case to appear on a public meeting agenda because of the project's scale. 

"Certainly with a case this complex, the review is going to take some time," he said.

Transource Energy filed its application for the power line project with the PUC in 2018. 

The project would include a new transmission line connecting a new substation in Lower Chanceford Township to the existing Conastone Substation near Norrisville in Harford County, Maryland. 

A segment also would run through Franklin County.

More:Transource deal would leave some York County properties untouched

More:Eminent domain battle looms over Transource project

In response to the project, opposition groups — including Citizens to Stop Transource — have formed. The organization protested the project's development, which would have crossed about 40 properties in York County. 

In October 2019, Transource filed a new scaled-back route that would no longer affect those properties, including farmland owned by Dolores Krick, president of Citizens to Stop Transource.

"Because of the settlement, we are not at liberty to comment against the project," Krick said Tuesday via email. "However, we are very happy that the end of the fight is near."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at  @tina_locurto.

Existing monopole structures located in southern York County.