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GPU-DQE TRANSMISSION PROJECT: DELAYS THREATEN PROJECT BENEFITS

GPU-DQE TRANSMISSION PROJECT: DELAYS THREATEN PROJECT BENEFITS
 HARRISBURG, Pa., July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Companies involved in the GPU-DQE Transmission Project said today that unnecessary delays in the review of a siting application are a threat to the project's benefits, threaten the companies' due process rights and are contrary to the desires of many affected property owners.
 Examples of attempts to delay the project are contained in a petition that was filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) by the project's four cooperating companies: Duquesne Light Company, Pittsburgh, and three GPU System companies -- Pennsylvania Electric Company, Johnstown, Pa.; Metropolitan Edison Company, Reading, Pa.; and Jersey Central Power & Light Company, Morristown, N.J.
 The siting application, which seeks PUC approval for a transmission line from Beaver County northwest of Pittsburgh to Dauphin County south of Harrisburg, was filed by the companies Sept. 11, 1991. No hearings have been scheduled in the case.
 The petition says that one or more of the Duquesne and GPU companies "may withdraw from the (project's business) agreements if adequate assurance is not forthcoming that the project will be completed." The petition asks the PUC to expedite its review of the siting application.
 "Because of the additional jobs created, enhanced economic opportunities and greater utilization of Pennsylvania resources, many organizations representing millions of Pennsylvanians have voiced strong support for the project," the petition says. "Delay results in tens of millions of dollars of lost benefits annually -- jobs, wages and other benefits that are desperately needed to revive Pennsylvania's weak economy."
 Attached to the petition is a listing of more than 140 organizations that have expressed support for the project.
 "In addition," the petition continues, "many property owners along the project's proposed route are anxious to move forward with the (review), and with negotiations affecting their properties." The project must negotiate with approximately 2,000 property owners to purchase rights-of-way for the transmission line route.
 Of the 600 "active participants" in the siting case, fewer than 150 people representing 92 households are property owners within the project's proposed route.
 The petition says that some participants in the proceeding are taking actions that "serve only to delay and disrupt." The petition lists examples of duplicative legal representation of intervenors, refusal by intervenors to cooperate with the administrative law judge in the siting case and unreasonable intervenor requests for additional delays.
 "Despite...extensive efforts by the commission and the presiding officer to attempt to provide for an orderly and speedy proceeding, hearings still have not commenced (and no hearings have even been scheduled), more than nine months after the filing" of the siting application, the petition says.
 The companies noted that the project made a significant effort to inform and involve the public in the project prior to filing the application in 1991. Approximately a year-and-a-half ago, the project began public discussions with elected officials, news media and others. A volunteer Siting Criteria Council helped develop criteria for selecting a proposed route for the transmission line, and more than 2,500 people attended 10 public workshops on the project.
 Since the filing, the project has opened additional public information offices, has placed copies of the siting application in 14 public libraries as well as in business offices of the companies, has answered more than 450 interrogatories from intervenors and has continued to discuss the project with thousands of people in their homes, in public meetings and by telephone.
 In addition to the construction of a 268-mile high-voltage transmission line, the $500 million project involves the reactivation of two Duquesne Light fossil-fuel power plants and the transfer of 500 megawatts of electricity from Duquesne to GPU customers in central and eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A Pennsylvania Economy League study estimates that the project will create 2,000 construction-related jobs per year over a five-year period and more than 1,500 permanent jobs in coal mines, power plants and support activities.
 -0- 07/07/92
 CONTACT: Gordon Tomb, 717-257-3914, or Ray Dotter, 717-257-4410, or after hours, 717-564-7787, both of GPU
 (GPU) CO: GENERAL PUBLIC UTILITIES CORPORATION; DUQUESNE LIGHT
 COMPANY


IN: UTI ST: PA -- PH029 -- X882 07/07/92
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Date:Jul 7, 1992
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