Residents win early eminent domain battle against PPL - abc27 WHTM

Northumberland County

Residents win early eminent domain battle against PPL

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Two PUC administrative law judges have ruled that PPL Electric Utilities did not prove that eminent domain proceedings are necessary for property in Malta, Northumberland County.

Roy Maurer, the owner of Maurer's Tree Farm, is one of the property owners involved.

"They made the right decision," he said. "Excellent decision for us and for our community here."

PPL has argued that increased demand for electricity has made it necessary to install a transmission line to connect two other lines on opposite sides of the Susquehanna River-- one in on Maurer's property in Northumberland county, the other in Snyder County.

PPL spokesman Paul Wirth gave us this statement: "We disagree with the judge's decision and we will file written exceptions urging the PUC to approve our application in this case. This power line is needed by all of our customers in the region to improve the reliability of their electric service."

The battle is not over. Both sides can respond to the judges decision.

"That's just one more step in the process," said Jennifer Kocher, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission. She said the case will then go before the PUC Commissioners.

She did acknowledge that the commission has seen a recent increase in eminent domain proceedings as demand for electricity has increased.

"With increased demand as they're going through and updating the system, instead of going through the status quo, because of increased demand, they're increasing the size of lines or adding new lines," Kocher said.

Maurer questioned whether the new line would be necessary.

"Really do they need the power line when they haven't been keeping the maintenance on their lines they have, the existing lines that they have?" he asked.

Kocher said the last of the arguments from both side are due January 24th. The commissioners can decide on the case any time after that.

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