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Berkeley County Commission opposes power line proposal

October 10, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday not only approved a resolution explaining its opposition to proposed routes for new high power electric lines through the county, but authorized its legal counsel to intervene in the state's regulatory process for considering the project.

Attorney Norwood Bentley III told Commissioners William L. "Bill" Stubblefield and Steven C. Teufel that there was no downside to legally opening a "direct pipeline" for the county to engage with the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) during the process of considering the Potomac Allegheny Transmission Highline (PATH) project.

Commissioner Ronald K. Collins was absent from Thursday's meeting.

According to the PSC's Web-based "activity" record on the case, dozens of letters of protest and petitions from residents across the state already have been filed with the agency, including formal opposition from the Jefferson County Commission.

The Berkeley County Commission's three-page resolution approved Thursday notes potential threats by the proposed 765-kilovolt line to conservation easements on farms protected through the county's Farmland Protection Program and the additional effects on as many 676 homeowners, tenants, businesses and churches valued at more than $125 million.

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The resolution also indicates the utility companies backing the project were excused by the U.S. Department of Energy from preparing environmental impact statements on the project's impact on rare and endangered plant and animal species and historic properties and landscapes.

The commission last week was presented with a petition with more than 1,000 signatures of people opposed to the PATH project, which is being coordinated by Allegheny Power and American Electric Power.

The utility companies have said the project is needed to prevent a looming reliability crisis on power services in the mid-Atlantic region.

West Virginia Citizens Against PATH, an opposition group, has announced a series of public meetings will be held on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tuscarora Ruritan Club at 8316 Tuscarora Pike near Martinsburg. More information about the citizens group can be found at www.wvcitizensagainstpath.com.

More information about the project is available at www.pathtransmission.com/.

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