One version of a proposed new PPL power line project has one area resident concerned that about his own health, property value and views, but he says he is “appalled and disgusted” on behalf of his neighbors.


 One version of a proposed new PPL power line project has one area resident concerned that about his own health, property value and views, but he says he is “appalled and disgusted” on behalf of his neighbors.

Paul Karkoska says his grandfather sold an easement for  a small portion of his Finnswamp Road property to PPL back in the 1970s thinking it would never be used. Now it‘s part of one of two alternate routes going through Paupack Township; but that isn’t the part that upsets him.

Karkoska says the real problem is with the land across the street — the Goose Pond Scout Reservation.

“What they’re proposing is taking a 125 foot wide by three-quarters of a mile long strip from the Boy Scouts. That runs the entire length of their land. That is land that was put away for the Boy Scouts to experience nature, not to have to look at power lines all day.”

For his part, Dave Srebro, camp director of the Goose Pond Scout Reservation, says his organization isn’t concerned.

“We’ve got 500 acres out there,” Srebro said, “And the camp makes up only about 75 acres of that. The easement is way out by the road on a section that campers never even go to. We would definitely prefer they take the other route, but we’re not overly concerned about it.”

PPL says the plan — dubbed the Northeast/Pocono Reliability Project — is necessary to improve electrical service reliability in the region and will increase capacity on a system it says is badly in need of an update.

The plan calls for three new electrical substations on a new, 145 foot high, 230-kilovolt line between the Wilkes-Barre area and Paupack, as well as a 138-kilovolt rated line upgrade between Peckville and Honesdale and several short 69 kilovolt lines to connect the new line to the substations.  

The project — due to be completed in phases between now and 2017 — offers six alternative routes over its 55-60 mile span. PPL says it will decide the route by the end of the year and will offer the plan for another round of public comment before submitting it to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

"These improvements will ensure that people living and working in the region have a safe and reliable supply of electricity," said David Bonenberger, PPL’s general manager for transmission operations. "This project will make electric service more reliable by reducing the number of power outages experienced by customers, and by reducing the duration of outages caused by falling trees or severe weather."

Be that as it may, there is a group of residents assembling in protest of the project and the way PPL is approaching it, says Larry Duda, whose Everly Road property makes up part of one of the routes.

“I inherited a property worth $30,000 and turned it into probably a half-million dollar value,” Duda said, “This high-voltage line would bisect my property and make it worthless. I would be forced to move. There are a lot of people who would be affected by this — not just the people right under the line — and PPL isn’t notifying them. I know one guy who is 100 feet away from where they want to build and he wasn’t notified. It’s shocking how many people don’t even know about it, and they already had their public comment period.

“There are a lot of issues here. Imminent domain issues — and we all know how much people like the idea of the government taking their land — environmental issues with wetlands, health issues and all kinds of things. Plus, these things absolutely destroy property values. They say ‘only about 10 percent,’ but that’s not true; it destroys the value of your land. You have to understand, this is no little boy we’re talking about here. At 230 kilovolts, even they admit a green leaf will burn from 50 feet away. Would you want to live near that?”

Duda says he and about a dozen other landowners are retaining a Scranton attorney to fight to have the project kept off their lands and have begun drawing maps that would offer the corporation more alternatives than the two  (in Wayne County) provided to the public. They hope to raise a public outcry over the project in order to force the multi-billion dollar international company to reconsider its approach.

“They’re playing pressure politics” Duda says, “And they’re ramming this through kind of quick, before anyone notices.”

Paul Wirth, PPL’s spokesman, says his company has gone out of its way to elicit public response to the project, from sending out over 50,000 letters to residents within 1,000 feet of the proposed line routes to holding 10 open houses to discuss the project, as well as placing newspaper ads  and news releases about it.

“The main thing we want to do is have a very robust public comment process here,” Wirth said, “We’ve gotten many comments from people about it; many of which I’ve answered personally.”

Regarding health concerns, Wirth says there have been numerous studies over many years that have failed to demonstrate a causal link between power lines and human health problems.

He also says the claim that playing host to such lines on your land have not demonstrated any long term negative impact on property values.

Those who wish to comment on the proposed project can do so at the following web address: www.pplreliablepower.com/northeast-pocono — or by calling 1-866-654-0823.

To lend your voice to the group of concerned citizens along the proposed routes, e-mail lduda1945@gmail.com with your name and contact info, or call 1-518-542-1563.