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Revised route options unveiled for power line in West Deer, Indiana townships

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Duquesne Light is proposing four options for the route of a new power transmission line from Harmar, through Indiana Township and into West Deer.
Courtesy of Duquesne Light
Duquesne Light is proposing four options for the route of a new power transmission line from Harmar, through Indiana Township and into West Deer.
Duquesne Light Co. plans to connect this electric substation along Dorseyville Road in Indiana Township with a yet-to-be-built substation in West Deer.
Michael Swensen | Tribune-Review
Duquesne Light Co. plans to connect this electric substation along Dorseyville Road in Indiana Township with a yet-to-be-built substation in West Deer.
Duquesne Light intends to use 'monopoles' for its proposed new transmission line through Indiana and West Deer townships.
Courtesy of Duquesne Light
Duquesne Light intends to use 'monopoles' for its proposed new transmission line through Indiana and West Deer townships.

Thirty to 40 properties will be affected by Duquesne Light Co.'s new high-voltage transmission line in West Deer and Indiana Township, the company said Thursday.

That number will fluctuate as the company does detailed engineering and considers topography, according to project Manager Zach Merritt.

Most, if not all, of the Indiana Township properties are in an agricultural zone.

Project opponents have formed Respect AgZone and are preparing for a unified legal challenge, some of the groups leaders said at a Duquesne Light open house Wednesday.

Respect AgZone said the area in question is a natural resource and farming center within 10 miles of downtown Pittsburgh.

“Adjacent to Hartwood Acres, it consists largely of compact farms, ranging from about three to 130 acres, with many in the 10-20 acre range,” the organization said in a statement.

Reliability projects

Duquesne Light says the five- to six-mile high voltage line through Indiana and West Deer townships is one of five “reliability projects” it is pursuing.

The transmission lines would connect two electric substations.

“Electricity flows from the point of generation through a transmission system to a substation. At a substation the voltage is stepped down, or lowered, to continue to flow through distribution lines to homes and businesses,” said company spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling.

The envisioned West Deer substation will enhance service reliability and provide for service expansion in Hampton and Richland as well as West Deer and Indiana Township, Yingling said.

A letter to customers said the project would increase the “overall resiliency” of the power grid.

Duquesne Light already provides service to about 584,000 residential and business customers in and near Pittsburgh.

“The substation is similar but smaller than the one at Pine Creek in Dorseyville,” Merritt said.

The plan is for the high power lines to be suspended from steel “monopoles” anchored in concrete. They will be 85 to 105 feet tall and will require industry standard 100-foot rights of way.

“They are known as weathering steel and have a rust, copper look,” Merritt said.

Some of the tall steel poles are in service in parts of Plum, at the east side of Boyce Park and near Oakmont, Merritt said.

Four routes identified

Duquesne Light is proposing four paths for the new line.

On a map, they are labeled the eastern, eastern option, central and western routes.

Each crosses the Rachel Carson Trail and each would affect private properties to some degree.

The revised eastern routes originate along the southern end of Gibsonia Road at the Indiana-Harmar township line.

The western and central routes begin at the Pine Creek substation on Dorseyville Road in Indiana Township.

All of the routes end at the new substation that will be built along Route 910 at Oak Road in West Deer.

The number of monopoles needed will be unknown until a route is selected.

For the same reason, a cost estimate is not available yet for the project.

In a Sept. 15 letter, Duquesne Light told property owners it has hired Stantec, an engineering consultant company, and Louis Berger, and environmental consultant, to do field studies and soil samples.

The utility asked West Deer and Indiana Township residents to allow the companies to access their land.

Some property owners have said they won't allow that access.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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