Pennsylvania law allows public utility corporations to use eminent domain power when the proposed use is “for the public”. If the proposed use is for the corporation and the public, Pennsylvania law looks to who is the primary and paramount beneficiary. If it is the corporation, Pennsylvania law precludes eminent domain power.

Transource sues landowners for access to properties where power lines are proposed

Transource Energy has sued 24 landowners, asking a Franklin County, Pa., judge to allow the public utility’s representatives to access properties to perform studies, tests and surveys as it proceeds with plans for 29 miles of overhead electric-transmission lines.

The company, through a subsidiary, requested in court documents immediate right of entry onto defendants’ properties. It claims landowners are prohibiting access despite “numerous contacts” since October.

“As a Pennsylvania public utility, Transource Pennsylvania has the power of eminent domain pursuant to the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law of 1988,” lawyers said in filings.

Transource Pennsylvania made its filings a week ago at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. As of Tuesday morning, the matter had not been scheduled for a hearing or assigned a judge.

Transource Energy is seeking to spend about $320 million to connect two existing 500-kilovolt transmission lines in Pennsylvania with stations in Maryland, and provide two additional pathways for electricity.

The company’s lawyers said surveying must be done between April 15 and June 15 due to state and federal requirements associated with habitat monitoring for bog turtles. The reptiles are considered federally threatened and are an endangered species in Pennsylvania.

“Without the information from the field surveys, the (transmission-line) project’s design cannot be finalized and the project will be delayed, therefore, the (transmission-line) project requirements will not be met,” Transource lawyers said in court documents.

Written by: Jennifer Fitch | heraldmailmedia.com