Transource announces proposed routes

Andrea Rose
A grassroots movement of residents from across Franklin County organized a tower photo event held Oct. 14 off Fetterhoff Chapel Road. The group formed a chain of people and equipment to demonstrate the width of a proposed right-of-way needed by Transource Energy.

Transource Energy has finalized the proposed routes for its overhead electric transmission infrastructure project.

Transource announced Monday the routes that it will file with state regulators for the Independence Energy Connection, a new overhead electric transmission infrastructure project in Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization for the area, identified the need for the $320 million upgrade to alleviate congestion on the high-voltage electric grid and benefit customers in the region, including parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The project’s proposed electric system upgrades include approximately 40 miles of new 230-kV overhead transmission lines, two new substations and additional upgrades to integrate the facilities into the grid.

The new transmission lines will connect to two existing 500 kV transmission lines in Pennsylvania to substations in Maryland and provide two new additional pathways to alleviate electric gridlock and increase consumer access to low-cost electricity.

According to Transource, the East segment of the project, which includes approximately 16 miles of new overhead electric transmission line, will connect a new substation to be constructed in Lower Chanceford Township in York County, to the existing Conastone Substation, near Norrisville in Harford County, Md.

The West segment of the project, which includes approximately 29 miles of new overhead electric transmission line, will connect a new substation to be constructed in Southampton Township in Franklin County to the existing Ringgold Substation, near Smithsburg in Washington County, Md.

*** Where it goes ***

The proposed west line begins near the Fayette Street exit of Interstate 81 in Southampton Township near Shippensburg and heads south following the interstate to just north of the Scotland exit, where it dog-legs toward the landfill, then cuts back across Route 997 through the mall property, then parallels the interstate until it cuts across through farmland over near Mower Road in Guilford Township. It then crosses Route 30 near Lowe's, then runs southward at a northeast parallel to Route 316, past New Franklin, and crossing Manheim Road towards Five Forks, where it crosses 316 south of Five Forks, crossing Route 16 southeast of 84 Lumber, making another dogleg before traveling south to cross South Potomac Street south of Green Hill Cemetery and into Maryland.

The project website has maps of the proposed routes, and the company is notifying involved landowners, as well as people who have been part of the process about the updated route.

Transource hosted two rounds of open house meetings this summer and presented more than 250 miles of route options for review.

The 10 events provided landowners and community members the opportunity to give detailed input to the project team. "All submitted input was incorporated into determining the final proposed routes," said Abby Foster, Community Affairs Representative for Transource Energy. "Transource worked to balance the public input with a variety of factors such as existing land use, sensitive species and habitats, soils and topography, historic and cultural resources, and the opportunity to parallel existing infrastructure."

***Feedback ***

Many members of the community, however, have spoken out against the project and have formed a bond, even as the proposed route has changed.

"The new route avoids my house, but my goal is to support those who will be directly affected," said Kayla Burcker, who has been an outspoken critic of the project. "The camaraderie in this group is amazing. Everyone seems to be looking out for everyone and the community as a whole. That's been incredible to see."

In addition to presenting route options, Transource presented two structure types to the public: self-supporting lattice and monopole.

Last weekend, dozens of residents gathered on a farm of Fetterhoff Chapel Road to form a chain using themselves and farm equipment to provide a visual demonstration of how large a 130-foot right-of-way would be.

Foster said the majority of comments the company received supported the monopole option. Transource plans to use the monopole except in areas where except where engineering or construction needs dictate another structure type. 

“By including community members in the siting process, rather than engaging them after decisions were made, we were able to consider and accommodate many landowner requests,” said Todd Burns, Transource director. “The input gathered over the last few months was a critical component of our decision-making process. We are confident that the route selection strikes the balance between building the required infrastructure that powers our homes and economy, while respecting land use and the environment in these communities. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as an engaged partner as we move forward with the regulatory approval phase of the project.”

Foster said Transource plans to file applications to construct the project with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Maryland Public Service Commission by the end of the year. Construction of the IEC is expected to begin in 2019, with a project in-service date of mid-2020.

For a detailed map of the new routes, visit interactive maps at www.TransourceEnergy.com/Projects/Independence.