Abandoned, under-used power line rights of way are PJM legacy
The Transource powerline Independence Energy Connection (IEC) project is planned for southeastern York County that already has five extant powerline rights of way and one gasline. Two of those existing powerlines are under-utilized; one is de-energized and abandoned. One was created as recently as 2016.
In her guest column of Feb. 9, Susan Buehler, chief communications officer for PJM Interconnection, stated that “PJM plans not just for today, we plan for the future.”
If only that were true.
PJM is the federally regulated body that operates the electric power grid for a thirteen-State region including here in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley. PJM awarded the proposed project to Transource. In light of the under-utilization of those rights of way, we who live here in Southeastern York County do not view this as good planning for any real or imaginary future. Rather, it is an unnecessary incursion into our community and a blatant land grab through pristine farmland, much of it preserved.
We feel very strongly that these extant lines should be upgraded and fully utilized before creating any new eminent domain easement through our power-line-congested community. It is a travesty that our eminent domain laws favor the power company and not the landowner, and that productive agricultural land – much of it in land trust representing in excess of $3.6 million in taxpayer funding – can be taken by a for-profit company for a project that will bring zero benefit to the affected community. By its own reckoning, PJM has projected no increase in power demand through 2032.
This build project is not an acceptable remedy for power needs. It is an even bigger insult to the landowners that this project will not answer a need for additional energy service here or anywhere else, but is a so-called market efficiency project. If there is a need to alleviate energy congestion at the Pennsylvania-Maryland line and to improve electric reliability in the PJM region, as Ms. Buehler states, then it should be accomplished through upgrades and full utilization of the existing rights of way.