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Pa. regulator allows transmission developer Transource to provide service

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved an order allowing transmission line developer Transource Pennsylvania LLC to provide service in the commonwealth.

The five-member commission on Dec. 21 unanimously approved an order granting Transource Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of Transource Energy LLC, a certificate of public convenience that declares the entity a public utility in Pennsylvania, according to a commission press release, a decision that also lets the company move ahead with filing a siting application.

"Our vote today does not approve the siting of any specific facilities," Pennsylvania Commissioner David Sweet said during the Dec. 21 commission meeting.

Transource in February applied for a construction permit to build the Pennsylvania portion of the Independence Energy Connection Project, which consists of two new substations in the commonwealth and two 230-kV transmission lines that continue into Maryland. The project was selected in 2016 by the PJM Interconnection, the grid operator of Pennsylvania and 12 other eastern states, as a market efficiency project that stood out for its cost savings in easing congestion in an area along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. Transource committed to building the project by June 1, 2020, and the project is expected to save electric consumers $620 million over 15 years due to reduced congestion costs, Sweet said in a Dec. 21 motion.

Transource Energy builds, owns and operates transmission facilities and is jointly owned by American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Great Plains Energy Inc. The public utility status gives Transource rights under Pennsylvania's eminent domain code such as entering land it does not own to gather information needed for its siting application, according to an Aug. 31 initial decision from state Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes.

The commission approved the certificate after Transource in July reached a settlement with various intervenors including the state's Office of Consumer Advocate; PECO Energy Co., an Exelon Corp. utility that serves much of southeastern Pennsylvania including part of York County, where the Transource line would be located; and Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, an interstate transmission developer owned by subsidiaries of FirstEnergy Corp. (Pennsylvania PUC Docket Nos. A-2017-2587821, G-2017-2587822)