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BOARD FOR ASSESSMENT AND REVISION TAXES LANCASTER COUNTY v. PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY (08/09/73)

decided: August 9, 1973.

BOARD FOR THE ASSESSMENT AND REVISION OF TAXES OF LANCASTER COUNTY, TOWNSHIP OF DRUMORE, TOWNSHIP OF MARTIC, SOLANCO SCHOOL DISTRICT AND PENN MANOR SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANTS,
v.
PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in cases of In Re: Additional Assessment of Property of Philadelphia Electric Company in the Township of Drumore and in the Township of Martic for 1965, 1966 and 1967, Trust Book No. 41, Pages 1 through 31 and 116 through 124.

COUNSEL

Lawrence J. Lee, with him Carl G. Herr, and Goodis, Greenfield, Henry, Shaiman & Levin, for appellants.

Roberts R. Appel, with him Charles Foltz Herr, and Appel, Herr & Appel and, of counsel, Edward G. Bauer, Jr. and Eugene J. Bradley, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 383]

These are appeals by the County of Lancaster, two townships and two school districts from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of that county striking from the assessment rolls additional assessments made for the years 1965, 1966 and 1967 against the real property of Philadelphia Electric Company ("PECO") acquired by it for a project known as the Muddy Run Pumped Storage Hydro-Electric Project which was under construction during the years in question. The case was factually stipulated.

In the fall of 1962, by purchase or condemnation, PECO began to acquire title to tracts of combined woodland and farmland in Lancaster County; these tracts, aggregating about 3,000 acres, were improved generally with farm buildings and residences.

The land so acquired included the land bordering both banks of a small stream known as Muddy Run winding westwardly through a ravine between high bluffs to the Susquehanna River.

The land was acquired for the construction of a pumped-storage generating plant for the production of

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 384]

    electric power to be fed into the transmission system of PECO to better meet at peak demand times the increasing and expanding demand for electric power in PECO's electric service area and to improve the reliability of its service.

A pumped-storage generating plant produces electric power by means of water flowing by gravity from an artificially created reservoir at a high level through turbines into a body of water at a lower level; the flowing water drives the turbines, which in turn drive generators thereby producing electricity. To replenish the supply of water in the high level reservoir, the turbines and generators are reversed and the generators act as motors and the turbines act as pumps to drive the water up into the upper level reservoir where it is stored. Ordinarily, generation of electricity occurs in peak-load periods during weekdays, while pumping is done during low demand periods at night and on weekends.

The pumped-storage generating plant to be constructed on the Muddy Run site contemplates the use of the Susquehanna River to provide the water for its operation to produce electric power, and since the Susquehanna River is a navigable stream subject to the jurisdiction of Congress, PECO was required to obtain a license from the Federal Power Commission under the Federal Power Act.

As a condition precedent to the grant of this federal license, PECO had to make provision for various beneficial public uses, including recreation, the burden of which runs with the license for its duration.

To satisfy this condition precedent, PECO proposed to the Federal Power Commission that approximately five hundred (500) acres be developed by it for a game preserve and an area of approximately seven hundred seventy (770) additional acres be developed by it for public recreational purposes to be operated by PECO

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 385]

    without profit. The proposed development of the recreational area included the construction of a dam across one of the fingers of the water storage facility to form an independent lake having a stable water level for its use by the public for boating and fishing. The water level of the water storage facility changes up to fifty (50) feet in the pumped-storage generating and pumping cycles.

The Federal Power Commission having determined that the proposal of PECO to provide for beneficial public use, including recreation, satisfied the condition precedent, issued its license effective for fifty (50) years to PECO in ...


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