PPL appeals PUC ruling in eminent domain case
HARRISBURG - PPL Electric Utilities filed exceptions Monday to a recommendation made last month by two administrative law judges from the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to deny nine applications of eminent domain filed by the utility, including seven properties in Lower Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County.
Monday was the deadline for PPL to file exceptions to argue its case against the recommendation made by the judges.
PUC deputy press secretary Denise McCracken said a final ruling in the case by the PUC won't be made until after reply exceptions are filed by attorneys representing the property owners, which could take at least 20 days.
McCracken said either party can appeal the PUC's final decision on the eminent domain applications to Commonwealth Court in their respective counties.
It is unclear what the denial, if it's made permanent, would mean for PPL's plan to build the proposed Richfield-Dalmatia 69 KV transmission line.
Last month's recommendation by the administrative law judges pleased rural landowners who are fighting PPL's plans.
PPL disagreed and filed 10 exceptions citing reasons why the project is needed by customers in that area.
In their Dec. 19 recommendation to deny the applications, administrative law judges David A. Salapa and Joel H. Cheskis stated, "In summary, PPL has failed to satisfy its burden to demonstrate that the transmission line and the Meiserville substation are necessary for the service, accommodation, convenience or safety of the public. We recommend, therefore, that PPL's applications be rejected."
In a 45-page document containing PPL's exceptions, attorneys for the utility state, "PPL Electric Utilities Corporation respectfully requests that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission finds that the service to be provided through the exercise of the power of eminent domain is necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience or safety of the public and approve PPL Electric Utility Corporation's condemnation applications."
In addition to the Northumberland County properties, PPL filed applications for eminent domain for one property in Perry Township, Snyder County, and another in Susquehanna Township, Juniata County.
PPL filed the applications in October 2011. Shortly thereafter, protests and objections were filed against PPL's applications by all nine property owners.
More than 20 people testified in defense of the landowners at a public hearing conducted by the PUC on March 7 at Hickory Corners and Community Fire Company. At the time, PPL had already reached a financial settlement with 45 of 54 residents affected by the proposed line.