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Allegheny Energy plans open houses about PATH proposals

November 16, 2008|By DAVE MCMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- An Allegheny Energy official said Sunday that the electric provider will hold three open houses in December, including one on Dec. 3 at Washington High School, where the public can learn about the newest proposed routes for a new high-voltage power line that has raised concerns in Jefferson County.

Allegheny Power officials have said recently that possible routes for the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) have been eliminated in Washington County, Md., and Berkeley and Morgan counties in the Eastern Panhandle.

But the line could still cross through Jefferson County, Allegheny Energy officials have said.

Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers said Sunday that the line could parallel an existing line that enters Jefferson County west of Summit Point and crosses over the county.

Staggers said he could not provide an exact description of that current line's route since he did not have a map with him that shows it.

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Allegheny Energy officials say they are looking at bringing the PATH line through Jefferson County even though the Jefferson County Commission on Oct. 30 agreed to send Allegheny Energy a letter asking that Jefferson County be removed from any PATH line consideration.

County residents and officials have expressed concern about how the line could impact residential areas, historical properties and farmland protection areas.

Staggers said he did not know if Allegheny Energy has responded to the commission's Oct. 30 letter, although he said that is more of an issue for the West Virginia Public Service Commission to consider as it decides whether to allow the line.

Staggers said Allegheny Energy likely will file a proposal for the PATH line with the Public Service Commission between January and March.

While Jefferson County remains under consideration for the PATH line, Staggers acknowledged Sunday how the county has "a lot of challenges" in terms of recent growth, and that Allegheny Energy will choose a PATH line that has the least impact on sensitive areas like residential, historical and parkland areas.

Staggers said he did not know if Allegheny Energy might come up with a proposed PATH line that would completely bypass Jefferson County.

Staggers said he has not seen the latest maps that identify possible routes of the PATH line through Jefferson County, but the routes might be shown in advertisements Allegheny Energy plans to run in local newspapers, including The Herald-Mail, on Wednesday.

If the maps are not in those ads, they should be in ads that will run Nov. 26, Staggers said. The public can also look for maps on Allegheny Energy's Web site at www.alleghenyenergy.com.

Jefferson County Commissioner Rusty Morgan said Sunday he believes the existing line about which Staggers is speaking runs between the town of Rippon in southern Jefferson County and Washington High School.

Morgan said he also was not sure of the exact route of the existing line beyond that point.

If PATH follows that existing line, "certainly, Summit Point won't like it," and parts of the Spruce Hill development could be near the line, Morgan said.

Morgan said people are worried about possible health risks associated with being near high-voltage lines, although it appears little research has been done on that issue.

During the upcoming open houses, the public can offer comments about proposed line routes in addition to gathering information about them, Staggers said.




Open houses



Allegheny Energy officials will hold three open houses in December on their proposed PATH line. The open houses, which will run from 5 to 8 p.m., will be at the following locations:

o Dec. 2 at Stonewall Elementary School in Clearbrook, Va.

o Dec. 3 at Washington High School along the Charles Town Bypass south of downtown Charles Town, W.Va.

o Dec. 4 at the Holiday Inn in Frederick, Md.

Also, look for maps on new proposed routes at www.alleghenyenergy.com

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