Pushback on power line proposal

SILVER SPRING TWP, Pa (WHTM) — With growth comes growing pains… and lots of complaints.

Several people spoke publicly Wednesday night, against a proposed new PPL power line that would stretch seven to eight miles through Upper Allen, Monroe and Silver Spring Townships. The line, would be carried across the mostly rural residential landscape by a series of 100-foot tall singular metal poles.

“We understand people are upset,” says Jessica Long, a PPL spokesperson representing south central Pennsylvania. We work with the public to minimize the impact as much as possible.”

Long was among three PPL representatives who presented plans and answered questions by Silver Spring Township Commissioners and property owners Wednesday. The power company is currently seeking public input on three proposed routes for the power line, which will connect a new 69kV electrical substation to an existing 230kV tap line located in Silver Spring Township, near the Carlisle Barracks. After a study of several sites, PPL purchased a 40-acre plot of vacant land along Fisher Road, near Williams Grove Road in Upper Allen Township, on which to build the new substation. The three potential routes would each cross through a combination of open farmland, and residential neighborhoods. Two of the routes would cross over Route 174. All three would cross over Route 641, known as West Trindle Road.

The electricity distributed by the substation will feed smaller residential lines across the region, increasing the capacity of the local grid, according to Long. “The upgrade would actually benefit tens of thousands of customers in the broader region, by helping to prevent power outages,” she added.

While a few residents say they understand the purpose of the new substation, they disagree with how PPL plans to carry the lines. Long says the company needs to construct the line completely independent from existing power lines in the same proximity. Opponents say its a wasteful use of land, which would potentially impact hundreds of properties along the new path, and creating a potential eyesore for thousands more.

“It’s a question we hear a lot,” Long said in her presentation. “Why can’t we just put the new lines on the old towers? We can’t because it presents maintenance problems and other issues. In addition, separate lines increases security on the grid overall.”

Unlike older lattice-style steel towers that already grace the local landscape, PPL plans to use the singular poles, approximately 100-feet tall. The 69kV power lines wold be draped between the poles, at times dipping as low as 30ft. above the ground, according to a project planner.

“We moved here, my husband and I, and lots of people in the community, to have a nice view. To have a nice retirement,” offered Silver Spring resident Blanca Coranza. “Not to have giant poles sitting in our back yard.”

Resident Al Kost, whose family has owned local farmland for more than 200 years, says he intends to fight any effort by PPL to install power lines on his land. The company says amicable agreements with property owners are often reached.

“It’s not going to be amicable,” Kost said. “You guys are looking to the future,” Kost said. “So if you pay me now for my land, then does that mean you’re going to hold my electric bills at the same price forever, and my kids?”

Kost used his time before the commissioners to pepper PPL representatives with questions about their potential use of eminent domain, which they stated was used only as “an absolute last resort.”

“We have no future for this ground then?” questioned Kost, wondering what benefit he would see from allowing power lines to cross his land. PPL officials responded that typical agreements allow the property owners to continue to own the property and use it for farming. However, agreements do not allow building on the land within a certain radius of the power lines, for safety reasons.

“Can I do whatever I want on that land? Can I stop you from coming on that land?” he asked

“No,” answered the PPL representatives.

“Then its not my land,” Kost concluded.

PPL continues to seek public comment on the three proposed routes, and expects to announce a “preferred route” by the end of March. Anyone with questions, comments or concerns about the project can call (855)310-3446.

To learn more about the proposed project, click here.

 

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