Transmission Lines Fact Sheet
This fact sheet gives an overview of Transmission Lines - the regulations, application process, hearings, protests, and much more.
Final Order Establishing Interim Guidelines - The Final Order regarding Interim Guidelines for the Filing of Electric Transmission LIne Siting Applications. Docket No. M-2009-214193 from the Public Meeting of November 4, 2010.
Commission Review of Siting and Construction of Electic Transmission Lines
The Pennsylvania Code - Link to the Public Utility Code regulations at Title 52 Public Utilities § 57.71-57.77.
How to File a Protest to an Application
The procedure to file an official Protest to an Application can be found at 52 Pa. Code, Sections 5.51, 5.52, and 5.53. The person filing the Protest is called the Protestant and must meet the criteria stated in these regulations to file a Protest.
Section 5.51(a) states that a person objecting to the approval of an Application filed with the Commission may file a Protest.
Section 5.52 (a)(1)(2)(3)(c) sets forth the content that must be included in the Protest, such as:
(a)(1) what is the alleged right or interest of the person filing the Protest;
(a)(2) state the grounds for the Protest;
(a)(3) Set forth facts that the Protestant has standing to file the Protest (this means the Protestant must state facts showing he/she is affected by the Application);
(c) the Protestant must file the Protest with the Secretary of the Commission, and serve (mail a copy by first class mail) of the Protest to the Applicant.
Two items should accompany the Protest when it is filed with the Secretary: A “Verification” sworn by the Protestant swearing that the facts presented are true and correct (an example of a Verification can be found at 52 Pa. Code Section 1.36(b)). A Certificate of Service must also be filed with the Protest telling the Secretary a copy was mailed to the Applicant (example can be found at 52 Pa. Code Section 1.58(a)).
Section 5.53 sets the time period for filing a Protest to the Application. Protests filed after the deadline of the filing period will not be accepted by the Commission. A Notice will be published in the PA Bulletin setting the filing period for Protests, explaining the Application, and the addresses of the Secretary of the Commission and the Applicant.
Eminent Domain Authority
Public utilities are statutorily obligated to provide "safe and reliable" service to its customers. Section 1501 of the Public Utility Code provides as follows:
Every public utility shall furnish and maintain adequate, efficient, safe and reasonable service and facilities and shall make all such repairs, changes, alterations, substitutions, extensions, and improvements in or to such service and facilities as shall be necessary or proper for the accommodation, convenience, and safety of its patrons, employees, and the public. Such service also shall be reasonably continuous and without unreasonable interruptions or delay.
66 Pa. C.S. §1501.
To meet this obligation, the Business Corporation Law (BCL) authorizes public utility corporations to exercise the power of eminent domain, as follows:
(a) ...take, occupy and condemn property for one or more of the following principal purposes and ancillary purposes reasonably necessary or appropriate for the accomplishment of the principal purposes:
* * * *
(3) The production, generation, manufacture, transmission, storage, distribution, or furnishing of ... electricity ....
15 Pa. C.S. §1511(a)(3). (Emphasis added.)
However, before a public utility may exercise its power of eminent domain, it must first seek and obtain a certificate of public convenience for approval from the Commission. The BCL provides the Commission with the power to authorize the condemnation of property as necessary for construction of the transmission line if the Commission determines that the service to be furnished by the utility is "necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience, or safety of its patrons, employees and the public:"
(c) Public Utility Commission Approval. — The powers conferred by subsection (a) may be exercised to condemn property outside the limits of any street, highway, water or other public way or place for the purpose of erecting poles or running wires or other aerial electric, intrastate aerial telephone or intrastate aerial telegraph facilities only after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, upon application of the public utility corporation, has found and determined, after notice and opportunity for hearing, that the service to be furnished by the corporation through the exercise of those powers is necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience or safety of the public ....
15 Pa. C.S. §1511(c). (Emphasis added.)