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After state rejects controversial power line project, company files appeal to try to make it happen

Just over a month after the four-member Pennsylvania Utility Commission unanimously voted to reject a controversial overhead power line project proposed for construction in south-central Pennsylvania, the he contractor hired to obtain the regulatory approvals necessary for its construction has filed appeals.

Transource Energy officials filed an appeal on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Pennsylvania and will file it in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania court on Wednesday. The appeals challenge the commission’s order, which denied the Pennsylvania side to build the Independence Energy Connection project.

PJM Interconnection, the regional network’s transport manager, said experts identified the “need” for the project almost five years ago. Officials claimed there was an infrastructure “bottleneck” that did not allow electricity to flow freely south into northern Maryland.

The project was to be built in Franklin and York counties and spanned the Pennsylvania-Maryland line.

“In its documents, Transource explains that PJM’s need determination is the requirement that must be followed to efficiently and reliably operate a multi-state regional transportation system,” Transource officials said in a statement. “Participation in the PJM interconnector and its regional grid operations brings significant benefits to member states, including $ 3.7 billion in annual savings. “

  • Read more: Central Pennsylvania Landowners Relieved by PUC’s Rejection of Controversial Power Line Project: “We Fought Bitterly”

But neither the PUC administrative law judge, Elizabeth Barnes, who was put in charge of overseeing the case, nor the PUC commissioners, who agreed with her recommendation, calculated a benefit for the Pennsylvanians.

The committee voted on May 20. Barnes had forwarded his recommendation to the commissioners, saying experts had testified that congestion costs had “fallen significantly by over $ 400 million since 2014” without the new transmission project.

“In addition, the project will have adverse economic and environmental impacts on real estate values, agricultural practices, natural springs, trout fishing, an elementary school, the Tim Cook Memorial Cross Country Course, businesses, the Owl’s Club. , local government and tourism in Franklin County, ”she said.

The Maryland Civil Service Commission approved Transource’s construction request in June 2020. Pennsylvania is critical to whether the project continues or whether its architects need to go back to the drawing board for another solution.

“New transportation infrastructure is needed to incorporate new energy sources into the market while maintaining system reliability, and the evidence clearly shows that multi-state regional planning is the most efficient way to meet these needs. Said Brian Weber, senior vice president of Transource.

Landowners, lawmakers and attorneys at the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate have opposed the project since its inception. They said they were not opposed to looking for alternative solutions to create market efficiency, but rather, they said to find another way.

“An appeal does not attempt to challenge the decision of an expert agency,” said Delores Krick, owner of the Muddy Creek Meadows stables and president of Citizens to Stop Transource. “He is simply judging whether the decision taken was in accordance with the law. Pennsylvania law is clear here – the PUC must find a need for the project. He does not have. A court cannot overrule that and find a need. The Court is not an expert on public services. Transource pulls the straw by using all utility taxpayers as an unlimited wallet. They have no reason to stop. We are convinced that they will not succeed.

The path could have affected up to 200 landowners in Franklin and York counties.

“Transource filed the initial requests to build the IEC project with state commissions in December 2017,” according to Transource. “During the regulatory process, the parties presented several alternatives. Transource and PJM have analyzed these alternative routes to ensure that the project continues to meet grid reliability and market efficiency requirements.

In Pennsylvania, the IEC project includes the construction of two substations, one in Franklin and York counties, and 24 miles of new 230 kV transmission line in Franklin County.

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