PPL rebuilding 9-mile line
A high-voltage transmission line that serves thousands of PPL Electric Utilities customers who live in the Shamokin area is being rebuilt.
The 9-mile, 69-kilovolt line runs from a substation in Eldred Township, Schuylkill County, to the Fairview section of Coal Township. It enters Shamokin at the western end of Bear Valley Avenue. It also passes through East Cameron and Mount Carmel townships.
The project includes building foundations for new single-pole towers, which will replace lattice-style towers, and stringing new wires that are installed with the help of a specialized helicopter team. Several temporary access roads and job sites were created because of the near vertical terrain the route traverses, including over Mahanoy and Line mountains. Some of those job sites include the former Kmart and Ames department stores.
Teri J. MacBride, regional affairs director for PPL Susquehanna Valley, said the majority of the work follows the existing route of the line; however, there is a "small" amount of new construction.
Preliminary engineering and design work started years ago, including contacting affected landowners and removing or trimming trees, MacBride said.
"It's going to improve the reliability of the line," MacBride said. "It will strengthen service for our customers."
Residents in Shamokin will soon notice equipment enter Shamokin. Work is already complete between Eldred Township and a substation in Dooleyville, and is well underway between Bates Road in East Cameron Township and on the western reserve of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Coal Township. PPL plans to release traffic advisories to inform the public of impacted roadways.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Work on another major PPL project in lower Northumberland County has been delayed due to litigation.
PPL's plans to build a substation and an 11-mile power transmission line near Dalmatia, but the project was sidetracked when nine land owners refused a financial settlement with PPL for right-of-way and easement. The case is now in Commonwealth Court following a ruling by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) that granted PPL's applications for eminent domain.
The line would connect to existing lines near Richfield in Snyder and Juniata counties and a line east of Dalmatia. The project is designed to strengthen the local electric system by decreasing the number and duration of power outages experienced by residents in that area.
Owners refusing a settlement are Michael and Logan Wendt, of Duncannon; Marvin and Leona Hess, of Liverpool; and Randall Clark, John and Evelyn Zeiders, Roy and Cindy Maurer, Ronald and Dianna Mace, Gary and Dorene Lahr, Elija and Fay Lahr, and the Shoop Family Trust, all of Dalmatia.
On Dec. 19, 2012, PUC administrative law judges David A. Salapa and Joel H. Cheskis recommended that PPL's applications for eminent domain against the owners be denied because PPL "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."
PPL filed exceptions to the ruling Jan. 14, 2013. In a 45-page document containing PPL's exceptions, attorneys for the utility state said, "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."
PUC's final decision July 16, 2013, found the line "is necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience or safety of the public" and granted eminent domain. PUC also stated that PPL showed "that the selection of the proposed route for the Richfield-Dalmatia transmission tie line was reasonable and not selected wantonly, capriciously, or arbitrarily."
The land owners filed an appeal to PUC's decision to the Commonwealth Court Aug. 14, 2013. They have obtained Scott Wyland and Edward Stinnett, both from Harrisburg, as their attorneys.
Both sides have filed briefs in the case, and an argument was scheduled to have been held June 18 in Harrisburg before all judges of the court.