I traveled to York County, Pennsylvania, last week to attend an informational meeting about AEP's "Independence Energy Connection" put on by the York County Farm Bureau. The meeting was held at 1:00 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, and it was packed. Two hundred people took time out of the middle of their day and reserved a spot to attend this meeting. And only pre-registered attendees were allowed in, it wasn't an open meeting for Transource and its advocates to undertake "opposition research." Attendance required forethought and determination.
The York Dispatch sent a videographer, who created a couple of excellent videos of the event here and here. The speakers were knowledgeable and interesting and provided excellent information for landowners and others interested in participating in the case (or forced to participate after finding themselves in Transource's siting bulls eye).
The land is beautiful, the area bucolic, the citizens informed, determined, and forthright. These are not people who are going to meekly accept this transmission line plowing its way through their community in order to make power cheaper for people in Washington, DC. It's not like these landowners don't already make a sacrifice to serve the needs of large cities to the south. They've been feeding the urban areas for generations, as well as living with large power generation stations that produce more power than the local area uses. Independence Energy Connection is just one transmission line, one sacrifice, too far.
PJM Interconnection and AEP made a grave error in evaluating the "constructibility" of this project. It's not sited on "undeveloped land" that no one cares about. This land is fully developed to its highest and best use and its owners, and the community surrounding them, are completely committed to keeping the land in its current "undeveloped" state. In its current state, the land is highly productive as a food factory for urban areas, where patio tomato plants are considered "farming."
We're talking 15 miles of new greenfield transmission rights of way for this section in York County. But yet the number of people opposed to this project numbers in the hundreds or thousands, only two months after being announced to the public. It's a run away freight train of vocal, organized opposition that cannot be turned around, no matter how much money AEP spends on big city public relations firms with "crisis communications" and "grassroots organizing" capabilities.
Stop wasting time and money on this project, AEP. You just can't win this one. Remember, there is no such thing as "undeveloped land" in the eastern interconnect. All land is used and useful to its owner and its development density is not an indicator of whether or not a transmission project may succeed.
Ut-oh, AEP! You're done for this time!