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Power Line Corridor Scars: When Will They Be Green?

LACKAWANNA COUNTY — As summer approaches, long scars on the mountains of the Lackawanna Valley are more obvious than ever. The scars were made by crews who installed a new PPL power line.

When we reported on the power line’s path last year, the utility promised to plant shrubs and grass to help hide the scars on the mountains.

Action 16 investigative reporter Dave Bohman went to PPL headquarters for answers.

Drive north on Interstate 81 from Scranton, and you notice the hills on both sides are scarred by the PPL’s new power line.

Frank Farrucci of Lake Ariel is one of many drivers we talked with who says the cuts on the hills really stand out in late spring.

“This is like, ‘wow, what happened?'” Farucci said.

“They don’t look that great,” said Maria Urso of Throop.

“I just see a lot of construction,” said Kelly Meiche of Pittston.

PPL began construction last year on the 500 kilovolt line running from the Susquehanna nuclear power plant near Berwick to New Jersey.

PPL says 95 percent of the line’s path in our region widened existing corridors, but along the mountains lining the Lackawanna Valley, PPL cut a parallel corridor, leaving the tracks through the hills.

“This was all beautiful mountains, beautiful countryside, and now it’s just torn up, gone,” Farucci added.

At PPL’S corporate headquarters in Allentown, executives say they are aware of the scars on the hills in Lackawanna County, and they promise the condition will be temporary.

“It will become green. It will be covered with grass, and eventually it will re-vegetate,” said PPL spokesman Paul Wirth

Wirth promises the greening will start by end of July.

“You’ll be seeing grasses and shrubs under the line and lower growing trees on the side of the line. It will look like any other PPL transmission line in terms of the vegetation,” Wirth said.

“Hopefully, one day it’s going to look complete,” Meiche said.

Drivers hope the scars are a temporary price to pay in return for what PPL promises to be more reliable source of electricity to the northeastern U.S. power grid.

PPL says work on the power line is 75 percent complete, and company officials say the entire project should be wrapped up by September 2015.


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