June 18, 2008

Resident Questions Benefits of Proposed PPL Power Line

By David Falchek, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Jun. 18--About 60 citizens attended a PPL Corp. open house in Scranton on Tuesday to learn more about the company's plan to build an electric transmission line linking its nuclear power outside of Berwick to the New Jersey border.

When selecting the three proposed routes, PPL officials sought to use its existing transmission lines and right-of-ways where possible. The line could be as long as 100 miles and cost between $300 million and $500 million to build.

With the exception of a new portion of the line dog-legging around Archbald, the entire course of the routes, dubbed "A" and "B" through Luzerne and Lackawanna counties all the way through Hawley, is along existing PPL transmission lines.

But the structures and capacity of those lines are different. The changes PPL would need to make if it selects A or B, and garners approval from the state Public Utilities Commission, would range from little change to complete reconstruction or new towers and lines.

Here's a breakdown of what would happen and where:

n Salem Township to the Stanton substation. The start of the route from the Susquehanna nuclear power plant will require modest upgrades and little would change on the towers between the plant and the substation in Harding.

n Stanton to the Lackawanna substation. This upgrade would require a new line of structures running parallel to existing 230-kilovolt lines to the substation in Blakely. This means another set of towers and power lines.

n Lackawanna substation to Salem Heights Road. This existing 230-kilovolt line that cuts through Peckville and Riverside will not change under any option.

n New Lackawanna-Salem Heights line. A new set of structures would be built from the Lackawanna substation and run to the southwest of Business Route 6, cutting east just north of Archbald Pothole State Park.

n Salem Heights to Kimble. All existing structures and lines would be removed and a new set of structures constructed.

n Kimble to New Jersey (Route A). This ending run of new structures would extend from roughly Kimble and continue north of Milford and into New Jersey.

n Kimble to New Jersey (Route B). This course of existing lines would be removed and replaced with new towers and lines.

Another route, C, would run from Berwick due east through Schuylkill County and to New Jersey along existing PPL rights-of-way.

None of the routes -- even the one ultimately selected -- are set in stone, noted PPL spokesman Paul Wirth.

PPL sent letters to the 2,500 property owners within 1,000 feet of proposed routes and contacted the 55 municipalities that would be affected.

Bill and Bonnie Urzen , of Jessup, wanted to know how the power lines they see on West and Bell Mountain would change and how Pennsylvanians may benefit from the project. PPL says the project will make the electrical grid serving 51 million people in the multistate region more robust and ensure reliable power.

Mr. Urzen said that benefit seems too diffuse.

"I want to know how PPL sending this power to someone else is going to benefit us," Mr. Urzen said. "Saying the grid will be more robust is a pretty vague benefit for most of us."

PPL wants to select a route by July and make a formal application to the PUC in September. The company would start construction in the Fall of 2009 and turn the new lines on in 2012.

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