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Penn Township plans homes for land once slated for plant

| Saturday, May 12, 2012, 6:32 p.m.

The Penn Township land once proposed for a controversial Allegheny Energy Inc. plant may be transformed into a residential development.

A spokeswoman for the financially troubled utility confirmed Thursday that the company had entered into an agreement to sell the property off Gumbach Road to a home developer.

"We signed a sales agreement to sell that property (Wednesday)," said spokeswoman Janice Lantz.

She declined to reveal a purchase price or the name of the potential buyer. A closing date remained to be scheduled for the approximately 150 acres near Claridge.

The last few months, Allegheny Energy has been selling assets in an attempt to refinance massive debt and avert bankruptcy.

Lantz confirmed that the sale of the land was related to efforts to raise money. Early this year, the company was looking to refinance at least $1.3 billion in loans.

In 2000 and 2001, Allegheny's attempt to build a plant on the property led to the formation of the Conservation Association of the Penn Township Area, a citizens group, and court battles.

During a nearly 18-month fight, both Westmoreland County Court and Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court sided with CAPA and others opposed to the plant, and Allegheny stopped efforts to construct the electric-generating facility as a result.

Allegheny Energy, which is based in Hagerstown, Md., serves about 3 million customers in a five-state area. Those customers include about 600,000 in Pennsylvania who are served under the name of Allegheny Power.

The utility employs about 2,000 in the Pittsburgh region.

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