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Electric power struggle threatens family farms

Hearing tomorrow on Transource Energy project
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Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 10:07:47-04

WHITE HALL, Md. — Massive metal erector poles – they are the backbone of the power delivery system dissecting farms along the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line, but plans to erect two more are too many for farmers in White Hall.

Barron Shaw's orchards date back to the 1830s and span 250 acres in White Hall.

Of two dozen potential routes for Transource Energy's power line, it chose one that would run through his property.

"So that's why the State of Maryland has already submitted testimony that says that they're opposed to it," said Shaw, "All of them, to a T, all of them have agreed that it's unnecessary and that it ignores existing infrastructure."

The company behind the project would use two proposed lines to carry cheap electricity from Pennsylvania through Maryland to help ease a projected load on the region's power grid in the years to come.

But critics say its real goal is to connect with deep-pocketed customers in the nation's capital and Northern Virginia.

"When we give the right to corporate companies to condemn farmers' land and open space land for profit, this whole North is in trouble,” said Bill Paulshock, a project opponent, “It's a fight for the North, but it affects our open space land and farmers across the bay, Montgomery County, all the way through."

That means cutting through Shaw Orchards, where people flock for the experience of picking their own fruit, and for Greg Goss, who owns a preserved farm 20 miles to the north in York County, the stakes are even higher.

"There's one building right saved for my son, because of this line, I'm unable to build that homestead for my son,” said Goss, “It will effectively cancel the dreams that I have and that my son has because of this line."

While the company has promised cheaper electricity here in Maryland, critics say it would amount to about $1 per customer, hardly worth the price of dozens of family farms.

The Maryland Public Service Commission is holding a public hearing on the power line project Saturday morning at North Harford High School in Pylesville.

It gets underway at 11a.m., but a sign-in sheet for those wishing to speak will be available starting at 10 a.m.