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.

6 comments

  • Disgusted With PPL

    Pike County is scarred forever. Many of the roads in the area are ruined thanks to the endless runs of heavy trucks. Rt 402 is a pothole ridden mess and PennDot does nothing. Smaller local roads are worse. The construction vehicles drive at high rates of speed, often in the middle of the road, forcing motorists out of the way. The state police does nothing. Access roads to the power lines have ruined our once beautiful Pocono Mountains. If you really think that politically-appointed fat cats at PPL really care, then you must believe in the tooth fairy.

  • Bob

    The little know but once beautiful Ed Staback Regional Park has been scared forever. The beautiful sunsets there have been obstructed by the power lines. And, the lines that so many people and groups tried so hard to re-route are not limited to Lackawanna County. In the county, drive north on the Casey Highway and you will see the Borough of Archbald surrounded by power lines where the lines cross from the west to the east side through the valley.

  • Nancy

    What a shame. People need to wake up, the entire NEPA area is scarred. I wont hold my breathe for PPL to replant this area it will most likely become another forgotten territory that we the locals have to deal with. Shame on us for letting this happen to our trees and mountains.Whats even worse is the lines were built to provide power to Jersey?!?!?! Ruin our land for something that isn’t even benefiting us, just like the towers.

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