You've gone too far, Transource. Shame on you!
Transource thinks that perhaps they're dealing with a bunch of rubes who are easily threatened into submission. After all, the eastern portion of the project is only 10 miles of line in a rural community bisected by a state border... but it's a sophisticated and well connected community. Transource, your strong arm tactics and lies don't work here!
During the past week, Transource poured the gas on their fruitless efforts to get landowners to sign legal documents giving the company permission to "survey." Landowners are never required to sign survey permission forms. While Pennsylvania law allows a public utility to access private property, there's a lot more to it that Transource presumes landowners don't know.
Furthermore, the Transource letter sent to landowners dated January 5, 2018 is inaccurate and misrepresentative of the proper procedures set in place under the Eminent Domain Code and public codes of the Commonwealth. In the letter, your company stated it has obtained utility status by Pennsylvania. While the Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved Transource's application for utility status on December 21, 2017, your company has yet to obtain the appropriate certificate and orders from the PUC to operate as a public utility and conduct land surveys/assessments. Moreover, even after obtaining the appropriate approvals, Transource must follow the Eminent Domain Code and issue a 10-day notice to all landowners before accessing private property. As of today, Transource cannot send such a notice until the proper certificate and approvals from the PUC.
Even if Transource has the legal right to enter onto property, a landowner never has to sign a permission form. If the company exercises its right to access property without the owner's permission it cannot expect that the landowner would release the company from liability for its use of the property. You need never sign a permission to access form.
Numerous landowners on the eastern portion of the project reported a rash of strong arm tactics by Transource land agent Western Land Services last week. Landowners received threatening phone calls demanding that they sign the survey permission form or the sheriff would come and arrest them.
I have received numerous complaints from constituents in my legislative district who experienced threatening behavior from your contracted land services agent, Western Land Services. In communication with landowners, agents from Westem Land Services threatened to call the sheriff's office and arrest residents who did not sign letters granting access to their properties. This type of coercive behavior and harassment by your contracted agent is unacceptable and illegal at best. I am requesting punitive actions be taken to ensure this type of disrespectful behavior does not happen again during the remainder of the project.
Whose idea was this, and why did they think it would work to intimidate this community? That person needs to be fired, first for breaking the law, second for having no morals, and third for being stupid, I mean just a complete idiot.
It really wasn't that long ago that another company got in big, big trouble in the Pennsylvania court and regulatory system by deploying threatening and coercive land acquisition tactics just like these. And TrAILCo's application to build transmission in Pennsylvania was denied by the administrative law judge who heard he case. Did TrAILCo's abysmal behavior play a part in its ultimate denial? Absolutely! Let's look at all the abusive land acquisition tactics that Transource has in common with TrAILCo... so far.
Do not make false or misleading statements.
Do not misrepresent any fact.
Until the Company has been authorized by the state utility commission, do not suggest that the Project is a "done deal" or is "99 percent sure" or make similar statements suggesting that the state utility commission has authorized construction of the project.
All Communications and interactions with property owners and occupants of property must be respectful and reflect fair dealing.
Do not engage in behavior that may be considered harassing, coercive, manipulative, intimidating or causing undue pressure.
All communications by a property owner, whether in person, by telephone or in writing, in which the property owner indicates that he or she does not want to negotiate or does not want to give permission for surveying or other work on his or her property, must be respected and politely accepted without argument.
Do not represent that a relative, neighbor and/or friend have signed a document or reached an agreement with the company.
Do not represent that a relative, neighbor and/or friend supports or opposes the Project.
Do not threaten to call law enforcement officers or obtain court orders.
Do not threaten the use of eminent domain.
Does PJM Interconnection know how badly you've screwed up this transmission project they "ordered" you to build? If I was PJM, I'd cancel your contract and find a reputable company to build it instead.
Meanwhile, Representative Hill wants you to apologize to the landowners you harassed. Try to be a big boy and take responsibility for your actions and don't blame them on rogue land agents or a fly-by-night company. You all know what's going on and chose to try to strong arm this community willingly. It blew up in your face.
Shame on you!