Commissioners praise Transource ruling

Franklin County Commissioners praised a decision this week by the PA. Public Utility Commission to deny Transource’s application to build a high-power electric transmission line through the county.

The decision came May 20 after a lengthy litigation battle involving evidentiary hearings and many legal filings.  Transource has 15 days to request that the PUC reconsider, and 30 days to appeal the decision.

Franklin County voices opposing the project prevailed, Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller said.

READ: County Files Petition To Intervene in Transource Hearing

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Commissioners received copies of PUC’s 80-page “Opinion and Order” soon after it’s release Monday. That order denied all of Transource Pennsylvania LLC requests to site and construct its “Independence Energy Connection Project” in portions of Franklin and York Counties. 

Transource failed to show a requisite “need” for the project, according to the ruling. PUC also revoked Transource’s conditional Certificate of Public Convenience. That move saved 43 properties in Franklin County from condemnation through the eminent domain process.  

The Public Utility Commission heard Franklin County’s voice and made the right decision, Keller said Tuesday.

“The defeated Transource project offered no benefits for Franklin County residents or Pennsylvanians, generally,” he said.  “It was to be a path to export Pennsylvania’s less expensive power to out-of-state consumers.  It is heartening to see that a full exploration of the facts resulted in a decision that will save Franklin Countians from an unsightly and unneeded transmission line project.”

READ: A Christmas gift to Franklin County

‘Sound and well-reasoned decision’

Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said commissioners are grateful for what he called “a sound and well-reasoned decision” by the PUC. He said the proposal would have offered no benefits, only local burdens to the community.

“We always believed that scrutiny through the administrative litigation process would show this project was unnecessary; ill conceived and unfair to Franklin County,” he said. “Today’s Opinion and Order show that our concerns were spot on and well worth our close involvement.”

 Commissioners hired the law firm of Salzmann Hughes, P.C. to actively participate and represent Franklin County in the proceedings.

“We are happy to have assisted the County in making its position known through the extensive administrative proceedings,” said attorney Bryan Salzmann. 

READ: Stop Transource Stages Peaceful Protest, Objecting to High-Voltage Power Line

Uphill battle

He called the case an uphill battle from the beginning.

The firm’s legal team, led by Salzman’s partner Scott Wyland, coordinated the battle with leaders of STOP Transource Franklin County, a local group opposing the transmission line.

“STOP Transource Franklin County’s effective leaders made a big difference in how thoroughly and effectively the case was presented,” Wyland said. “The battle was hard; and we are very pleased with the outcome. (Its) a very rare decision in this type of case.”

Commissioner John Flannery said the three-member board recognized from the beginning that the project offered no benefits, only burdens, for the community. 

“When we know we are in the right, it makes taking on this type of effort worthwhile,” he said.  “The PUC listened and made a decision that we know is the right one; for Franklin County and for the Commonwealth.  We did the right thing in this case; and we are pleased that our voices were heard.”  

Franklin County’s elected governing board was one of numerous local entities opposing the project. Chambersburg Area School District’s board opposed it, as did local Chambers of Commerce, Franklin County Area Development Corp. and the citizen’s group, STOP Transource.

READ: FCADC Still Opposes Transource; The STOP Transource battle

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