Posted on September 22, 2008 in Community, Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone state.  If you look at it from a geographic perspective, this nomenclature becomes apparent.  Pennsylvania is the gateway to the Northeast from the rest of the country.  We are a heavily traveled state and will soon be utilized en masse to deliver electricity to the Northeast not only from our state but from every state west of Pennsylvania.  52 out of our 67 counties in Pennsylvania have been deemed legitimate transmission targets for the NIETC (National Interest Electric Corridors), which would turn our great state from “Penn’s Woods” into “Penn’s Towers.” 

Under NIETC (or if the utility already owns Right of Way through your area), any utility can seize your land for power lines while you continue to live on it or farm it.  Under current law you continue to pay taxes on this land and you receive no compensation from any of the extra costs you have to pay to farm around the tower or for any loss in the value of your property that is now “blighted” real estate. Yet the utility companies continue to reap the benefits year after year.

It gets worse since New Jersey has forced Pennsylvania’s hand with legislation outlawing new coal burning and nuclear plants, knowing that Pennsylvania, built on coal, would never pass such a law.  If you look at PJM’s long term plans, you will see new coal and nuclear plants being planned for central Pennsylvania.  We do not need this extra power but our neighbors do. No one can dispute that as a nation we all need a safe and efficient source of power and that we have to work together but it is the role and responsibility of our government to ensure, through fiscal incentives and regulation, that the goal is accomplished in a fair and just manner.

We are simply proposing that utilities pay the citizens of Pennsylvania proper compensation since our land is so valuable to the National Interest. We would like your help in sponsoring and promoting Pennsylvania legislation that will ensure more efficient use of existing infrastructure by removing the current economic incentive to put in a new line rather than to upgrade an existing line or invest in technology.

Proposed Pennsylvania legislation: Compensation to be paid for a right of way or for the real estate blight caused by an electricity transmission line: The compensation for the use of a right of way or for the blight caused by a electricity transmission line shall be an annual use fee payment based on a percentage of the value generated by the transmission line.

Such a payment would ensure visibility of the true value derived from right of way and ensure fair compensation is paid to those who have to endure the blight of a transmission line in “the national interest”. The response of the power generation and transmission companies would be to adjust their pricing accordingly, lowering the price in the producing or transmission area and increasing the price in the area of the consumption making local production such as residential or commercial solar more attractive.

Finally, in a world of rapidly advancing technology we can expect that the unit price of Photovoltaic cells (PV) will continue to decrease as their efficiency increases just as we have seen with computer memory. This emerging trend will increasingly become apparent over the next few years and it is highly possible that before the new gigantic towers designed to transmit power from one side of the county to another are completed, they will be obsolete. Consideration should therefore be given to the restitution of rights of way and the removal of the power transmission lines other than through the use of the Superfund.

Developing legislation requires considerable work in identifying, educating and persuading state Senators, Representatives and ultimately the Governor. Big corporations like PPL do this by hiring lobbyists but we have decided that we will be better served by continuing to work through volunteers like you and me. We need your help to get this issue before our legislators.

Posted on September 18, 2008 in Community, Environment, Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »
We are looking for people to go to the PA Energy Fest this weekend, but specifically Friday at 5:30PM where Senator Casey will be talking about NIETC.  For those that are not familiar with NIETC, check here for more information.
This Fri., Sat. & Sun. – Sept. 19, 20, & 21, 2008
Featured Keynote Speaker on Main Stage: U.S. Senator Bob Casey
“The Federally Mandated Electrical Transmission Corridor Planned to Go Through PA by Eminent Domain”
National Interest Electric Corridors: What the New Federal Law for Designating and Siting Power Lines Means for Pennsylvanians
The 2005 Energy Policy Act created a broad new authority for the federal government to take the electric transmission line siting process away from the state in certain situations. The new law is now being put into effect with 75% of the state swept into the new federal power and transmission line projects proposed in southwest and northeast Pennsylvania.

Senator Casey will discuss what it means for Pennsylvania property owners and communities, its impact on Pennsylvania’s renewable power and global warming initiatives, and what we can do about it.

UPDATE: Casey will not be speaking, but we still encourage you to go!  Holly from the Sierra Club will be speaking about NIETC and needs our support!

Posted on September 3, 2008 in PPL by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

That’s right – outside of the rate cap coming off and a 30% utility bill increase, the Morning Call reports this morning that PPL is trying to get a 74 cents/month rate increase in place to replace aging power lines, but also for new transmission lines.

This is why we ask for continued support from the community.  This is clear evidence and a reminder that the threat of lines through our area is not transitory.