The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday gave the go-ahead to PPL Electric Utilities Corp. to construct a nearly 60-mile, high-voltage transmission line that starts in Luzerne County.
The 5-0 decision on the proposed Northeast Pocono Reliability Project allowed PPL to use eminent domain in building the 230-kilovolt power line running from Jenkins Township to Wayne County that includes three new substations.
In a press release, the PUC said it found that the new facilities are necessary and that PPL took reasonable steps to minimize the environmental effects of the construction and maintenance of the facilities.
The start date for the project with an overall cost of $335 million is still to be determined, PPL spokesman Joe Nixon said.
“We expect that all the different parts of it will be completed by 2017,” Nixon said.
As a last step PPL will use eminent domain to take properties on which it has not been given right-of-way or an easement by the owners, Nixon explained. There are approximately 20 properties along the route that PPL has yet to reach an agreement with, and negotiations are ongoing, he said.
Stephanie Raymond, PPL Electric Utilities Transmission and Substation vice president, said the company was pleased with the PUC’s decision.
“Investing in our system and keeping it strong means more reliable service for customers,” Raymond said in a prepared statement.
The company sought PUC approval in December 2012 after holding 13 public meetings on the project that PPL said would improve electric service for 250,000 people in Northeast Pennsylvania, where usage has grown from decades of new home construction and the increase in the use of appliances and electronics.
The new lines were promoted as necessary to reduce the number of outages and their durations by eliminating the long stretches between substations and lines, some up to 40 miles, that were more vulnerable to outages from severe weather and fallen trees.
One of the three proposed new substations is in Buck Township, at the end of a nearly 15-mile stretch in Luzerne County.
According to PPL, the proposed route is from Jenkins Township east, parallel to an existing line right-of-way, for approximately 2.4 miles across Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, (state Route 476). After the turnpike, the line proceeds south for 4.6 miles, crossing Bald Mountain Road and around the eastern edge of a wind farm. From there the line intersects an existing gas pipeline right-of-way and heads southeast for 7.7 miles.
It runs parallel to the north side of the pipeline and crosses State Game Lands 91 into Buck Township, where it passes a pipeline compressor station. The 14.7-mile section ends at the proposed West Pocono Substation.
The other substations are in Covington Township, Lackawanna County and Paupack Township, Wayne County. The sites will be between 4 and 5 acres and enclosed by fences.
The project also includes improvements to existing 69-kilovolt power lines in Lackawanna and Wayne counties.
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