Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) on Nov. 28 filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) a prehearing memorandum in relation to its proposal to build the Bedford North-Central City West 115-kV transmission line.
As noted in the filing, Penelec in September filed an application with the PUC seeking siting approval to locate, build, operate and maintain the high-voltage transmission line. The project involves building the new 17.6-mile line from Penelec’s existing Bedford North substation, located in Bedford Township, Bedford County, Pa., to Penelec’s existing Central City West substation, located in Central City Borough, Somerset County, Pa.
About 10.4 miles of the line would require new right of way (ROW), while the remaining 7.2 miles involve rebuilding a section of Penelec’s existing Bedford North-New Baltimore 115-kV transmission line, which is located in Napier, East St. Clair, and Bedford townships in Bedford County.
Penelec requested that the PUC approve the project as a double-circuit 115-kV line.
The company further noted that it filed with the PUC applications for the exercise of eminent domain to obtain property rights and easements necessary for the construction and operation of the project. Since the time of filing 19 eminent domain applications, Penelec has resolved four of the applications, and has filed four petitions to withdraw the eminent domain applications.
According to Penelec, the project is needed to avoid anticipated violations of applicable transmission planning criteria under conditions that PJM Interconnection foresees, particularly thermal and voltage planning criteria violations.
The company said that the project would exit from the Bedford North substation to the west, cross U.S. Route 220 and I-99, and extend west for 7.2 miles on the existing Bedford North-New Baltimore 115-kV line that is to be rebuilt as a double circuit transmission line. Land use along that portion of the existing, maintained ROW is predominantly agricultural, or undeveloped forest area.
West of SR 56, the company added, the route would climb the forested slopes of Pigeon Hills and pass over several roads bordered by low density residential development, such as Harrison Road. Beyond Harrison Road, the route would pass over a 0.1-mile section of Shawnee State Park, extend through a mix of forested and agricultural lands, then cross SR 96 just north of the Borough of Schellsburg, Bedford County.
West of SR 96, the existing Bedford North-New Baltimore 115-kV line angles to the southwest, while the proposed route would continue west as new construction for the rest of the project. The route would traverse across forested and agricultural lands over 4.4 miles. At Lambert Mountain Road, the company added, the route would traverse up the 500-foot forested face of the Allegheny Front, extend west into Somerset County, and then cross an isolated section of Fleegle Road.
Turning to the northwest, the route would cross Beaverdam Run and traverse through a mix of forested and agricultural lands before crossing into State Game Lands #228.
The route would then generally follow Lambert Mountain Road, following an alignment that has been coordinated with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and is designed to reduce the number of angles and limit the length of new ROW across those protected lands. From the western edge of State Game Lands #228, the company added, the route would extend 1.5 miles through forested lands to the eastern limits of Central City, then continue west for 1.7 miles through Central City Borough, following an active Norfolk Southern rail line, before heading west along a private access road into the Central City West substation.
No new ROW is needed to build the project along the existing 7.2-mile portion of the existing Bedford North-New Baltimore 115-kV line, the company said.
Of the approximately 17.6 linear miles that the project would traverse, about 5.7 miles would be located in Somerset County municipalities, and about 11.9 miles would be located in Bedford County municipalities.
The company said that the preferred route for the project, “Alternative Route 2,” was selected over other alternative routes because it makes the best use of existing electric line corridors and existing ROWs, minimizes environmental and other impacts, and properly considers public input.
According to the schedule proposed by Penelec, a prehearing conference would be held on Dec. 5, followed by an evidentiary hearing on Feb. 15, 2017.
Penelec is a subsidiary of FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE).