April 23 DEP Hearing In Thornhurst On Proposed PPL West Pocono-North Pocono Transmission Line

Thornhurst Township is in the path of the PPL Electric Utilities Corp. (PPL) high voltage transmission line approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) in 2014.

The PUC approved 58 miles of line, divided into 3 sections: North Pocono – Paupack; Jenkins – West Pocono; and West Pocono – North Pocono. The North Pocono – Paupack Section and the Jenkins – West Pocono sections are under construction now.

Thornhurst, as well as Buck, Clifton and Covington, are in the path of the West Pocono – North Pocono section.

What is the Status of the PPL West Pocono - North Pocono High Voltage Transmission Line in Buck, Thornhurst, Clifton and Covington townships?

PPL is required to get environmental permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) before clearing the land and building the line.

PPL has applied for the DEP permits, but they have not yet been issued. They are a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permit and Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permits. These are required for soil disturbance over a certain acreage and wetland and stream encroachments, respectively. The conditions in these permits will determine whether our Lehigh River, streams and wetlands will be polluted or protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can we do?

We can appear and provide comments at the DEP public hearing to be held on Thursday, April 23, 2015 starting at 6:00 pm at the Thornhurst Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co., 351 Old River Road. Details of the public hearing and other information can be found here.

This hearing was requested by the Township Supervisors and others, so that we can provide input on environmental concerns such as:

  • Impacts on water quality of our streams from chemicals, nutrients and sediments
  • Impacts to wetlands
  • Forest destruction and fragmentation
  • Vehicles and equipment introducing invasive species into our lands and waters
  • Herbicide use that would be harmful to streams
  • Increase in erosion and scouring of stream banks
  • Increase in the potential for flooding

If you cannot attend the public hearing you are encouraged to submit your comments to:

West Pocono – North Pocono 230kV Transmission Line Hearing
Department of Environmental Protection
Waterways & Wetlands Program
2 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701-1915.

How will the construction activities impact the quality of the Lehigh River?

The West Pocono – North Pocono section is approximately 21 miles in length. The cleared right-of-way for the line will be 150’ wide. It will cross and potentially impact 21 exceptional value (EV) streams and 24 EV wetlands feeding the Lehigh River. These streams and wetlands are of the highest quality and are sensitive to pollution. The impact on the streams and wetlands and the cumulative impact of this disturbance on the Lehigh River could be significant.

Some major water quality concerns are polluted runoff (such as grease, oil, chemicals and nutrients), loss of vegetative cover, warming of streams, scouring of the stream banks, increased sedimentation and possible flooding, all of which will degrade the Lehigh River. The forest is no longer there to absorb the rain. Wetlands that are encroached upon will be compromised and not able to absorb the rain. Hopefully, the permits will be drafted to prevent pollution and environmental degradation.

What is the PPL construction on the surrounding roads?

Jenkins – West Pocono 230 kV Line:

We can see examples of PPL’s clearing and construction activities from Buck River Road, Meadow Run Road and Bald Mountain Road. Here, PPL is working on the Jenkins – West Pocono section. This recent picture of the Jenkins – West Pocono section taken from Buck River Road shows the wholesale clearing and massive construction activities.

On the east side of Buck River Road you can see the construction of the West Pocono Substation. The total project site for the Substation is 45 acres. PPL cleared 37.2 acres. A picture of the construction site taken from the air in November of 2014 is below. The greenish strip is the existing gas line along side of the PPL Substation.

Where can I get more Information?

You can get more information from a DEP system called eNotice. eNotice provides automatic e-mails to subscribers free of charge. If you list Thornhurst Township, Lackawanna County and Water programs as your areas of interest you will receive notices and can track the permit applications that impact Thornhurst. The eNotice information is basic but it is of some help. Here is the link www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eNoticeWeb.

In addition, you can schedule a review of the PPL files at DEP in Wilkes-Barre by calling 570-830-3127. You will have to fill out a form and wait for an available date which can often be 6 weeks later.

Is there a contact at PPL?

Nathan Chaney
Manager, Transmission Permitting
Two North Ninth Street, GENN 4
Allentown, PA 18101-1179