September 27, 2017
An open letter to THE AEGIS and the BALTIMORE SUNPAPERS with copy to Governor Larry Hogan; Harford County State Senators Wayne Norman, J.B. Jennings and Bob Cassilly; Maryland State Delegates Richard K. Impallaria, Patrick L. McDonough, Kathy Szeliga, Glen Glass, Mary Ann Lisanti, Susan K. McComas, Andrew P. Cassilly and Teresa E. Reilly; Harford County Executive Barry Glassman; Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky and Harford County Council Members Mike Perrone, Jr., Joseph M. Woods, James McMahan, Chad R. Shrodes, Patrick Vincenti and Curtis Beulah; Carol West, Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation
AG Land Preservation Support in Harford County? Why are NEW Power Transmission Lines OK?
It was with interest that I read the concurrent news articles in the THE AEGIS issue September 22 "State to Pay $ 4 Million to Preserve Farmland" and "Keeping Madonna Rural Picks up Support". The topic in each is the value of AG land to be used for Agricultural Production and related AG purposes, as well as the overwhelming success of the various AG Land Conservation Easement programs. I read these articles with interest due to the current struggle which I and many others in Harford County find ourselves facing in response to the recent announcement that Transource Energy LLC is proposing to construct a series of Power Line Transmission Towers on newly acquired easements across the northwestern sector of Harford County and into southern York County. The project is the "Independence Energy Connection" (IEC). The connection between the AEGIS news articles regarding support for AG Land Preservation and AG production and the IEC is that the IEC requires the construction of NEW Power Line Transmission Towers in NEW Easements across miles of land which is permanently conserved through conservation easements administered by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF).
It is to be noted that the emphasis is on the fact that the IEC requires NEW easements which will take conserved farm land out of production, including acres of land which are currently in fruit tree production at Shaw's Orchards on the MD/PA line.
Members of the Community have organized to oppose the IEC on the basis that the project has not proven:
1) that it is a project of public need – The IEC is described as a project of "economic efficiency"
2) that the existing lines in the existing easement areas are insufficient to meet the energy management goals of the IEC - There have been no published studies to determine if the energy which is to be sent over the NEW Transmission Power Line Towers can be accommodated through the use of EXISTING Lines and Towers.
The writer is co-chair of the Citizens' Action Committee "Stop Transource Power Lines MD". You may have seen the signs along the roadways in rural White Hall, Norrisville, Pylesville and other areas of Harford County as well as York County. This committee is comprised of citizens who view the approval of the IEC as a gross violation of the trust which citizens place in their legislators to protect the property rights of their constituents and the responsible management of the land which lies within their jurisdiction. While it is understood that Transource has not yet received approval from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to proceed with the IEC, contact from the Committee to legislators has been met with a lack of urgent interest and a general acceptance of the project as non-threatening and necessary.
This letter is written to appeal to the State and County representatives of Harford County citizens to investigate this project; to acknowledge the significance of this project as precedent-setting both in the context of management of energy transmission throughout the state and the use of eminent domain to condemn land which is permanently conserved for agricultural production.
We appeal to each of our elected officials to learn about the Transource Energy IEC and to agree to meet with Stop Transource Power Lines MD to discuss how we can work together to effectively manage energy transmission needs in the 21st century without squandering the AG Land Conservation resources which have so carefully been cultivated over the past 40 years.
We encourage all citizens to visit the website "www.stoptransourcepa.org" the PA arm of this movement, to learn more about the IEC and the whys and hows of energy transmission across state lines. Information is available on the Stop Transource Power Lines Harford County, MD Facebook page. An information meeting is scheduled for October 18, 2017 at 7 pm at Pond View Farm located at 2601 Jolly Acres Road, White Hall, Md 21161 - seating is limited - please register on the Facebook page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, we are to be congratulated for diligent land management practices through effective zoning and conservation easements. Do not allow this seemingly innocuous IEC project to slip through unnoticed, thereby irreversibly damaging AG conserved communities and creating the precedent for more NEW power line towers and easements.
Aimee C. O'Neill
Norrisville, Harford Co., MD
Ms. O'Neill is the Co-Chair of
Stop Transource Power Lines, MD