Power line project threatens 150-year-old orchard

Shaw Orchard has been open since 1909
Posted at 11:28 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 23:36:42-04

A proposed electric grid project could change the future of Shaw Orchards, a staple in Harford County for more than 150 years. 

"My family has been on this land for over 150 years and we've been a commercial orchard since 1909," said Shaw Orchards owner Barron Shaw.

A new electric project could jeopardize Shaw's business. The project would install power lines in Harford County and into Pennsylvania, including on Shaw Orchards' property. 

"I'm concerned that the power lines don't fit in well with what people come to the country for," Shaw said. "People come to the country for an experience, they come to the country not just for our great food but to see our landscape." 

Shaw and dozens of other Harford County residents are worried the landscape will change if the Transource Energy project moves forward.

"I don't think it will be so bad where I'll have to close my business but it would hurt very badly. I might lose a good portion of my wholesale business because they would have to take down orchards that were just planted and are just starting to bare fruit," said Shaw.

A Transource Energy spokesperson said the project's aim is to reinforce a grid that will benefit the entire region. The energy company held an open house Wednesday to ease the community's concerns.

"We're asking for the public's help in identifying issues and working with us so that we can ultimately make a good recommendation  that includes local comment into the process and trying to find a balance between the impacts of the project and the need for reinforcing the grid," Transource Energy Director, Todd Burns said.

Transource Energy held an open house Wednesday night to ease concerns saying the project's aim to reinforce the electrical grid a plus for the region.

Burns said about 15 miles of land in Northwest Harford County near the Maryland/Pennsylvania line could be affected. Several routes have been proposed but nothing has been finalized.

"We're going to take this information go back and narrow down the options again.  Ultimately, we'll identify a route to propose and we'll announce that and then file and application with the state by the end of the year," said Burns.

Still, residents are uneasy.

"This energy enhancement project should be using existing easements rather than creating new ones," Harford County resident, Aimee O'Neill said.

Transource Energy says it will continue to solicit the public for input on this proposed project. State regulators will have to weigh in before anything can move forward and it could be years before the project starts.