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PECO, IN EXCEPTIONS TO WOODBOURNE-HEATON RECOMMENDATION, CITES POTENTIAL 'DISASTROUS' IMPACT ON STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 PECO, IN EXCEPTIONS TO WOODBOURNE-HEATON RECOMMENDATION, CITES
 POTENTIAL 'DISASTROUS' IMPACT ON STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Philadelphia Electric Company (NYSE: PE) (PECO) told the Public Utility Commission (PUC) today that a recommendation to delay energizing the Woodbourne-Heaton transmission line sets a dangerous, no-growth precedent that would be disastrous to economic development throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for years to come.
 The company also said, in filing exceptions to the recommendation from an administrative law judge (ALJ), that his recommendations to the PUC, if adopted, "would literally stand the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code on its head and sacrifice the public interest at the expense of the private interests of a few."
 Such regulation, PECO said, would signal that "public interest can be held hostage" by any protester expressing a fear to the PUC.
 At issue is ALJ Herbert Smolen's initial decision on the energization of the Woodbourne-Heaton line, a completed, 12.8 mile, 230,000-volt transmission line from the Woodbourne substation in Levittown, Bucks County, to the Heaton substation in Upper Moreland Township, Montgomery County.
 After 12 days of hearings, Smolen dismissed allegations that exposure to electro magnetic fields (EMF) cause adverse human health effects, yet he recommended that the PUC set statewide standards for EMF exposure.
 He also recommended that energization of the Woodbourne-Heaton line be delayed until EMF standards are set, because a small group of persons living near the line testified that they feared adverse health effects and claimed they would move or limit the use of their land if the line were energized.
 PECO, in its exceptions, said the recommendation represents an "extremely dangerous precedent.... that a needed transmission project be delayed or otherwise halted on the grounds that a selected few residents have claimed that they are fearful.
 "If 'reasonable fear' is sufficient to warrant disapproval of a transmission line, then the public interest can be held hostage to any intervenor with an imagination and an allegation of concern.
 "An intervenor in a utility project approval process could thus stop any project merely by proving that some scientific questions are unresolved.
 "One could not derive a more accurate prescription for a total statewide policy of absolutely no-growth. Such a policy is not only unwarranted, it would be disastrous.
 "If the ALJ's recommendation is adopted, any property owners could thwart a public utility project simply by stating that they are fearful and will change their future behavior if the line is energized.
 "If that is the standard that must be met, no future transmission line will ever be placed in operation."
 PECO pointed out that the litigants had already been turned down twice, in 1990 and 1991, by the PUC, which found, in both cases, that EMF concerns were insufficient to stay construction of the line.
 Thus, "PECO submits that if the Protestants' concerns did not justify a delay pending an examination of their EMF claims, those concerns cannot possibly justify a delay of the line now that the Protestants have had a full hearing and failed to prove that their EMF concerns are based in fact."
 Furthermore, PECO said, the PUC itself has already found that the Company and its customers would be prejudiced by a delay in completing the project when it ruled: "The Commission found public need for the reconstruction of the line when it approved PECO's Letter of Notification. It is, therefore, inconceivable that halting construction of the line even temporarily would not adversely effect PECO or the public interest."
 PECO said that almost all the ALJ's findings in fact argued for the energization of the line. Among them were:
 -- The line meets all applicable safety standards for its construction, operation and maintenance.
 -- The scientific evidence does not support a conclusion that EMF causes adverse human health effects.
 -- The design used for the line will result in the lowest levels of EMF that could be achieved.
 -- The design, route and field levels associated with the line are consistent with the concept of "prudent avoidance."
 -- EMFs associated with the line are in the same range as other 230,000 volt lines in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the United States, and meet all existing magnetic field standards anywhere in the country.
 Therefore, the exceptions said, "approval should not be contingent upon some administrative event or criteria that has not and may never come to fruition, and which if enacted would admittedly have no relationship to health, but that is precisely what the ALJ has recommended to the Commission."
 The exceptions pointed out that many states, including California, Colorado, Maryland and Texas, have declined, after extensive study, to set EMF standards, given the lack of scientific understanding and agreement on the issue.
 PECO also pointed out that the Pennsylvania House Conservation Committee concluded in late 1990 that "at this point, it is the sense of the Conservation Committee that any action beyond research is premature.
 Also, PECO said, since New York took two years to develop standards, and Florida took almost six years, "such a review, which clearly is an extended process, argues strongly against delaying the Woodbourne-Heaton line -- thus harming the public interest -- pending such a consideration.
 "It is clear," the exceptions noted, "that if the commission pursues that course, a quick resolution almost certainly will not be forthcoming," since many complicated questions must be answered, such as, if a standard is to be set, would it be applied to all existing facilities in the state or only to new facilities?
 If existing facilities are "grandfathered" to exempt them from the standard, as would be likely, the company said, that would exempt Woodbourne-Heaton, since it is already fully constructed.
 So, "there would be no advantage," the exceptions said, "to delaying energizing of the line pending consideration of standards that likely would not be applied to the line in any event.
 "Delaying energization of needed transmission lines pending development of such standards," the exceptions concluded, "would be seen for what it would be -- an economic no-growth policy until further notice."
 /delval/
 -0- 9/14/92
 /CONTACT: Bill Jones of Philadelphia Electric, 215-841-4129/
 (PE) CO: Philadelphia Electric Company; Public Utility Commission ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI SU:


JS -- PH009 -- 9050 09/14/92 10:35 EDT
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Date:Sep 14, 1992
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