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Boonsboro residents concerned about path of high-voltage power line

August 14, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- Dennis Palmer and his wife, Rosetta, said that a proposed power line that could run through parts of southern Washington County will be "too close" to their home.

The couple, who lives on Boonsboro Mountain Road, said Allegheny Power is proposing to run a high-voltage power line past their home. They said the line will be 3 miles to the west, but will go directly over their neighbor's house.

The Palmers were among about 50 people present during the first hour of an informational meeting Wednesday hosted by Allegheny Power to discuss the line that is proposed to run from West Virginia to Frederick County, Md. The three-hour meeting was held at American Legion Post 10 in Boonsboro.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is planned to carry 765 kilovolts of electricity from a substation northwest of Charleston, W.Va., to another substation in Bedington, northeast of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Jay Ruberto, director of transmission siting. From there, twin transmission lines would carry 500 kilovolts each to a substation to be built near Kemptown, Md., southeast of Frederick, Md.

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One of several possible routes for the power line cuts across southern Washington County.

"It goes right over the top of my house," said Pat Toney, who lives on Keadle Road, outside of Boonsboro. "It would make sense to use existing lines."

Ruberto said that, where possible, Allegheny Power is attempting to run the proposed power lines parallel to smaller, existing lines.

Toney said the maps and photos he saw Wednesday show that there will be a large lattice tower on his property as well. He said he was concerned that trees on his property would be cut down to make room for the power lines.

Barry Hildebrand, who lives near Toney, said he owns 10 acres that will be affected by the proposed lines. He questioned why he and his neighbors were only now discovering a plan that involves building towers and running power lines through their property.

Hildebrand said the plans he saw Wednesday show that a 200-foot-wide path on his property will be cleared to run the power lines. However, his property and surrounding properties are zones for agriculture and conservation, he said.

"That's why I bought it," Hildebrand said.

He questioned whether the proposed route could run through his property since it has that type of zoning.

Allegheny Power and American Electric Power, which will share a portion of the 290 miles of lines, have been studying potential routes and are accounting for cultural and historic places, wetlands and endangered species and plants, The Herald-Mail has reported.

After studies have been completed, the companies will apply for regulatory approvals from the Maryland and West Virginia public service commissions by the end of this year, Allegheny Energy spokesman Todd L. Meyers said.

He said the power line, expected to cost $1.8 billion, is needed to accommodate rising demand for electricity and to prevent blackouts that are predicted as soon as 2012.

The issue: The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is planned to carry 765 kilovolts of electricity from a substation near Charleston, W.Va., to a substation in Bedington, northeast of Martinsburg, W.Va. From there, twin transmission lines would carry 500 kilovolts each to a substation southeast of Frederick, Md. One possible route for the power line cuts across southern Washington County.

What's new: An informational meeting on the topic was held Wednesday, and residents were able to look at maps showing possible routes for the power lines.

What's next: Officials said additional meetings will be held. After studies have been completed, companies will apply for regulatory approvals from the Maryland and West Virginia public service commissions.People unable to attend Wednesday's meeting may comment at www.pathtransmission.com, a Web site created by Allegheny Power to provide information about the PATH line. Maps also are available on the Web site.

Staff writer Joshua Bowman contributed to this story.

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